Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, a top pediatric cardiologist in Louisiana, is leaving the state with his husband and kids after lawmakers recently passed legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community. 

Kleinmahon, one of only three doctors with his qualifications in Louisiana, told CBS News the decision to leave was difficult but felt necessary to protect his family.

“If you’re at a place and there are rules that are made directly against your family, but not anybody else’s family, why would you want to stay?” he said. 

Referring to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as an example, he said, “If that were to pass, which it looks like in the future it will in Louisiana given the political landscape, if our kids went to public school, and they were being made fun of because they have two dads, teachers would not be able to just jump in and say, ‘Hey, there’s all different types of families’ and celebrate the differences.”

Kleinmahon is leaving his job as director of Pediatric Heart Transplant and Heart Failure at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans for a new position in New York.

The moment that cemented the decision? He and his husband closely watched the last Louisiana legislative session where the bill was debated.

“When people against the bill started talking, the Republican legislature just walked out. They didn’t care,” he said. “It really showed to us that they’re not going to defend our family. They’re not going to defend our children. And that to us was the moment that we decided it’s time for us to leave and to search for a new future.”

Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community, but the Republican-controlled legislature overrode the veto on one of the measures, which bans gender-affirming care for people under 18. 

Kleinmahon says leaving his patients has been the hardest part of the decision to move — but he know they will be in good hands.

“We have poured our hearts, our souls — we planted roots in Louisiana. I have made such significant connections with my patients and my families that I take care of. I have supported them along the way, and I’ve had to give a lot of thought about this,” he said. “Fortunately, there are two other pediatric heart transplant cardiologists in Louisiana at Ochsner who will still be there… and those families will be taken care of.”

But he notes, “Louisiana also has to give something back to us.”

He says he is looking forward to helping new families in a different state that didn’t previously have the opportunity for his speciality of care.