Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) issued an executive order Tuesday that legalizes religious discrimination against the state’s LGBTQ community.
The executive action is in response to the failure of the GOP-majority state legislature to pass the so-called Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act, which would codify discrimination of LGBTQ people by those who oppose marriage equality.
HB 707, sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City), would have prohibited the state from taking action against a person, organization, or business if they acted in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction about marriage.
The House Civil Law Committee voted 10-2 Tuesday to effectively kill the bill through a procedural move.
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“There’s never a convenient time to stand up for liberty,” Johnson said after the bill’s defeat in committee, according to the New Orleans Advocate. “This issue’s not going away, though.”
As in Indiana and Arkansas, Louisiana faced a backlash against the legislation from LGBTQ advocates and those in the business community who warned the anti-gay policy would be bad for the bottom line.
Stephen Perry, the President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Associated Press that the bill would make the state “complicit in officially state-sanctioned bigotry” and hurt the state’s economy to the tune of $65 million per year.
“We’re attempting to … carve out the ability to discriminate, the ability to be bigoted,” Perry said.
Businesspeople this spring in Indiana urged the Republican-dominated legislature there to vote against a discriminatory religious freedom bill, expressing similar sentiments about the impact of such a policy on the state’s economic health. The bill nevertheless passed, mostly along partisan lines.
Jindal issued a statement after signing the executive order, in which he said that the state should not be able to take adverse action against a person for their belief in so-called traditional marriage.
“That’s why I’m issuing an Executive Order to prevent the state from discriminating against people, charities and family-owned businesses with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Jindal said. The order will remain valid from now until 60 days after the start of the next legislative session.
Jindal has criticized President Obama for issuing executive orders in response to the inability of Congress to pass legislation. Jindal issued a statement attacking the president’s executive action on immigration as bypassing Congress.
“Granting amnesty by executive order is wrong,” Jindal said of Obama’s immigration policy. “If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people. This is an arrogant, cynical political move by the President, and it’s why so many Americans no longer trust this President to solve the problems we face.”
The executive order in Louisiana prohibits all departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the state from taking action against a person who “acts in accordance with his religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”
Micah Caswell, a spokesman for Equality Louisiana, said in a statement that Jindal was “abusing his executive power” and suggested that the governor cared more about his own presidential aspirations than about the people of Louisiana.
“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,” Caswell said. “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.”
Jindal, over the past year, has courted the religious right while positioning himself for a possible GOP presidential campaign.
This year he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and gave a speech that attacked Obamacare and Common Core, expressed controversial comments about the Muslim community in England, and was a prominent figure at the Christian prayer rally called The Response.
Jindal announced Monday that he is forming an exploratory committee while he considers a possible campaign for the Republican nomination for president, reported the New York Times.
“While other Republican leaders are talking about change, I’ve published detailed plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, rebuild America’s defenses, make America energy independent, and reform education for our nation’s children,” Jindal wrote in an email to supporters.