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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 22, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 21
Louisiana House committee kills 'Freedom to Discriminate' bill, Bobby Jindal throws hissy fit
Section One
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Louisiana House committee kills 'Freedom to Discriminate' bill, Bobby Jindal throws hissy fit

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order bypassing his state's legislature and commanding state agencies to connive in discrimination against Gay and Lesbian couples.

Jindal issued the order on May 19, mere hours after a Louisiana House committee killed his pet bill, the so-called Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act. The measure would have allowed businesses and service providers to use religious belief as justification to refuse service to Gay and Lesbian customers.

Saying he was 'disappointed by the committee's action,' Jindal took executive action to order state agencies not to prosecute or punish 'individuals, non-profit, or for-profit corporations' who refuse to serve Gay or Lesbian customers if they claim to be acting 'in accordance with [their] religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.'

The move put Jindal at odds with leaders of Louisiana's Republican-controlled legislature and its business community.

The bill got off to a bumpy start in the Legislature, with Republican State Senate President John Alario saying flatly that 'It puts Louisiana in a light of hatred and bigotry and discrimination.' A House committee later voted by a lopsided 10-2 margin not to advance the measure.

Meanwhile, IBM's top Louisiana official wrote Jindal expressing the company's 'strong opposition' to the bill.

'IBM has made significant investments in Louisiana including most recently a technology services delivery center in Baton Rouge, creating new jobs for Louisiana workers,' James M. Driesse, the company's senior Louisiana executive, wrote.

IBM employs about 800 people in Baton Rouge. Jindal's office quickly responded, saying he was sure IBM would be in favor of the legislation if they understood what the bill was really about.

'We're beginning to convince the world that Louisiana is one of the best places in the world to do business,' said Michael Heck, the president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, a regional business promotion group.

'These gains are real but fragile. Companies think [the anti-Gay measure] will make it harder to recruit workers to Louisiana.'

Equality Louisiana, an LGBT rights group, and Louisiana Progress Action, denounced Jindal's executive order and suggested that the governor's actions were designed to advance his presidential aspirations.

'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,' the groups said in a statement.

'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.'

HRC had a similar assessment.

'This executive order falls into the category of unnecessary, gratuitous and discriminatory,' the group said.

'On the same day that Louisiana legislators had the good sense to turn back discrimination, Governor Jindal, who's facing one of the lowest approval ratings in state history, decided to promote his presidential fortunes by championing ignorance. He's on the wrong side of this issue and will no doubt be on the wrong side of history.'

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