Legislation intended to be a preventative shield for religious freedom in advance of the coming Supreme Court decision on marriage was shelved by a committee in the Louisiana legislature this week. However, that did not stop Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal from immediately issuing an Executive Order with the same goal.
Louisiana’s Marriage and Conscience Act (HB 707) would have denied the state the authority to take “adverse action” against people based on their “religious belief or moral conviction about the institution of marriage.” Adverse action would include denying tax exempt status, disallowing charitable deductions, altering tax treatment, targeting employee benefit plans, denying access to grants, contracts, licenses, accreditation, employment, and other discrimination. When the bill was defeated in the state’s House Civil Law and Procedure Committee, Governor Jindal quickly issued a similar Executive Order.
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, thanked Governor Jindal for working to protect religious freedom. “I applaud Governor Jindal for recognizing the importance of defending America’s fundamental freedom to live out the tenets of our faith every day,” he said. “Why should it be controversial to prevent the government from targeting and coercing people whose religious belief is that marriage is the holy union of one man and one woman?”
Louisiana State Representative Mike Johnson (R-Bossier) introduced the measure. As in Indiana earlier this year, opponents cast a shadow on the legislation. However, Rep. Johnson insisted, “The Marriage and Conscience Act is crafted to create an important shield for people of faith and it provides a sword to no one.”
In NRB’s press release, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson added, “Powerful lobbying interests that claim to champion tolerance are showing their refusal to tolerate any belief that does not fit with their own. I hope cooler heads in public service at the local, state, and national levels will join Governor Jindal in not bowing to the admittedly well-funded and powerful pressure of these groups. Until then, I am glad that this leader understands religious liberty and how to use Executive Orders.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: May 15, 2015