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Part 2 of 2:
2015-MAY: Louisiana: Opposition to bill to allow
discrimination against the LGBT community, etc.
Bill fails. Governor Jindal (R) issued executive
order to protect those who discriminate.

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This is a continuation from the previous essay.

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Oppposition to SSM symbol Opposition to the Louisiana RFRA bill:

The similar RFRA bill in Indiana generated a firestorm of opposition from sports, industry, and civil rights leaders and was later modified to partially tone down its discriminatory provisions.

Garrett Epps, writing for The Atlantic, said:

"... HB 707 [was] a bill designed to protect anyone in the state who acted 'in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction about the institution of marriage' -- in other words, who discriminated against same-sex married couples. Its protections covered, for example, state contractors who might discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages; licensed professionals, such as doctors, who refuse to provide services to same-sex couples; and businesses that refuse to accommodate same-sex couples. ..."

"IBM sent Jindal a letter warning that:

'IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law.'

Stephen Perry, the head of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, issued a statement saying that the bill:

'... has the possibility of threatening our state's third largest industry and creating economic losses pushing past a billion dollars a year and costing us tens of thousands of jobs'." 6

Marty Rouse, the National Field Director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), -- a pro-equality group -- said:

"Louisiana families are worried about making enough money to get by, securing a well-paying job, and building a better future for their children. Governor Jindal seems more interested in driving his state off the same cliff that cost Indiana tens of millions of dollars in lost economic activity and put hundreds millions more at risk before the legislation was significantly changed. Governor Jindal is right, this isn’t an issue of partisanship, it’s an issue of sanity." 3

SarahJane Brady, executive director of the Forum for Equality, said:

"It’s disappointing that Gov. Bobby Jindal is supporting this bill which permits discrimination in the name of religion. This bill permits discrimination against interfaith couple [sic] and interracial couples, not just the gay and transgender community. The truth is this bill is not about religious freedom -- we all have that guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions. The bill just gives a license to discriminate in Louisiana." 3

Ryan Rowe writing for the Human Rights Campaign's blog states:

"A powerful coalition of local business, faith, legal and LGBT leaders joined with fair-minded Louisianans -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- against HB 707.

Leaders from Marriott Hotels, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Greater New Orleans Inc. testified today against HB 707.  Michael Heck, the president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, a regional business development alliance, testified: 

"We’re beginning to convince the world that Louisiana is one of the best places in the world to do business. These gains are real but fragile. Companies think [HB 707] will make it harder to recruit workers to Louisiana." 4

The bill was shelved on MAY-19 by a vote of 10 to 2 in the Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.

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wedding rings2015-MAY-19: Governor Jindal signs executive order to implement some of the "freedom to discriminate" provisions of HB707:

A few hours after the Louisiana RFRA bill died in the Civil Law and Procedures Committee, Governor Jindal issued a statement saying:

"We are disappointed by the committee's action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar.  We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman. 

"This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is [restricted to a union] between one man and one woman." 5

To clarify his intent, if a person or public accommodation discriminates against a person, then they will be allowed to get away with it. The state will not punish the person or organization doing the discriminating. This has nothing to do with freedom of religious belief. It has everything to do with the state allowing actions that are discriminatory.

Gene Mills, President of Louisiana Family Forum -- a conservative Christian group -- said that his organization:

"... applauds Governor Jindal for his pledge to protect the religious liberty of those who believe marriage is [restricted to a union] between one man and one woman."

Two pro-equality groups, Equality Louisiana and Louisiana Progress Action issued a joint statement saying:

"It is shameful that Gov. Jindal has decided that abusing his executive power to accomplish the goals of House Bill 707, even after it was tabled indefinitely by our legislature today, is worth more effort than fixing our disastrous state budget. In his time in Iowa, he may have forgotten what everyday Louisianians value, but the testimony today against HB 707 should have reminded him. Discrimination is not a Louisiana value.

Gov. Jindal is clearly trying to leave the biggest mess possible, as he readies himself to spend even less time in Louisiana and to launch his presidential campaign. In the end, his extreme ideology is only making the state a worse place for those of us who actually plan to live here past his last day in office."

Garrett Epps, writing for The Atlantic, said of the executive order:

"It’s certainly not harmless; it may provide cover for some wretched jack-in-office somewhere in Louisiana to proclaim his or her private, homophobic state policy.  But its major effect will likely be political. It may, perhaps, provide some boost to Jindal’s presidential campaign, meaning that JINDAL ‘16 will get nowhere faster than it otherwise would have." 6

"Dave in Texas" a reader of the above article, posted his comment:

"This whole thing about 'religious freedom' and 'freedom of conscience' really has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with license, which a lot of these folks seem to think is the same thing. It ignores everybody else's freedoms and seeks license to behave like a bigot without consequences of any kind. That's pretty rich, coming from the crowd that constantly carries on about personal responsibility." 6

"Guest," another reader, posted her or his comment:

"... moral people somehow are forced to bake a wedding cake for homosexual couples engaged in a sinful act. ... I would, and every other moral person would serve a homosexual, but when it comes to the sanctity of marriage it grossly crosses the line. If I had a bakery or any other service I would absolutely unequivocally refuse to celebrate a homosexual, or bigamist, or pedophiliac's wedding." 6

One day before releasing his executive order, Governor Jindal announced that he had launched an exploratory committee for a 2016 presidential bid.

To recap: The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom of belief, assemble, speak, etc. RFRA laws are very different. They are sold as "religious freedom legislation" but are in reality "religious freedom to discriminate legislation." Discrimination starts with a person or company who rejects marriage equality. In violation of the Golden Rule and any local or state Human Rights legislation, they decide to discriminate against a customer who seeks goods or services for a wedding. The intent of Governor Jindal's executive order and that of House Bill HB707 are to give immunity to the person or company doing the discriminating. The end result is a society that is less respectful, diverse and peaceful.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Louisiana HB707, the "Marriage and Conscience Act," Louisiana Legislature, at: https://www.legis.la.gov/
  2. "Jindal's goals: Balance budget, religious freedom, dumping Common Core," WWL-TV, 2015-APR-13, at: http://www.wwltv.com
  3. Adam Talbot, "Governor Jindal: Is Legalizing Discrimination Really the Best You’ve Got for Louisiana?," Human Rights Campaign blog, 2015-APR-15, at: http://www.hrc.org/
  4. Ryan Rowe, "Anti-LGBT Bill Derailed in Louisiana," Human Rights Campaign blog, 2015-MAY-19, at: http://www.hrc.org/
  5. Emily Lane, "Bobby Jindal plans to issue an executive order enforcing intent of religious freedom bill," The Times-Picaynne, 2015-MAY-19, at: http://www.nola.com/
  6. Garret Epps, "What Will Bobby Jindal's 'Marriage and Conscience Order' Actually Do?," The Atlantic, 2015-MAY-21, at: http://www.theatlantic.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-MAY-21
Last updated 2015-MAY-21
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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