Jindal vehement on passing the piece of legislation.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is supporting a plan that would see his state implement a version of the controversial “religious freedom act,” enabling antigay discrimination on an even harsher scale than what has been seen in Indiana and Arkansas, according to The Advocate, since it involves not only religious, but also “moral” beliefs.
The “Marriage and Conscience Act,” filed as House Bill 707 and authored by Rep. Mike Johnson, has polarized state lawmakers. Though it is supported by Jindal, a potential Republican presidential candidate, Senate President John Alario said, “it puts Louisiana in a light of hatred and bigotry and discrimination,” reported CBS News.
Opponents of religious objections laws attest they allow for businesses and others to discriminate against LGBT individuals while using religious grounds as a moral smokescreen. But proponents – including Jindal, say the laws protect “religious liberty.”
“I absolutely intend to fight for the passage of this legislation — and any other that seeks to preserve our most fundamental freedoms,” Jindal said in a speech to both chambers of the Legislature.
“All this bill does is provide necessary protections for individuals to prevent adverse treatment from the state based on religious beliefs regarding marriage. This legislation does not allow a restaurant or industry to refuse service to a gay or lesbian person,” he claimed.
Jindal asserted that he is not for discrimination, but said the state could oppose discrimination and uphold religious liberty at the same time. However, The Advocate noted that in the address he appeared to be more worried about discrimination against people with conservative religious views.
“In the United States, a state should not be able to take adverse action against an individual for holding a sincerely held religious view regarding marriage,” he said. “That would be true discrimination.”
Sarah Warbelow, legal director for Human Rights Campaign, isn’t buying a word of Jindal’s rhetoric.
“This bill is worse than any RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] in that it explicitly allows discrimination based on an individual’s religious beliefs about marriage,” she disclosed in a prepared statement. “Nobody gets to go into court for a balancing test, there’s no interpretation by a state judicial system. It flat out gives individuals a right to discriminate, period.”
The Advocate noted that Johnson has already deleted one particularly controversial section of the bill, which would have allowed employers to deny benefits to workers’ same-sex spouses. Johnson, a freshman Republican representative, has been staunchly active in anti-abortion and anti–marriage equality causes, but is purported to abhor discrimination.