Tuesday, 19 April 2016 16:30

Louisiana's religious freedom and Governor Edwards' protective order

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by Lou Gehrig Burett, Publisher of Fax-Net

‘Religious freedom’ bill up in House
    Bossier City state Rep. Mike Johnson’s so-called “religious freedom” legislation passed in the Civil Law and Procedure Committee and will be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, April 19.
    The controversial bill passed out of committee with all Republicans voting for it, including Johnson and state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, and the three Democrats on the committee voting against it, including Shreveport state Rep. Sam Jenkins.

   Similar bills enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi have created chaos in those states and is adversely affecting tourism and businesses.
    The Republican governor of Georgia, under much pressure from big businesses in his state, vetoed similar legislation.
    But proponents of the legislation insist Johnson’s bill is different and refer to it as the “pastor protection” bill.  
    It says that a religious institution should not be forced to participate in any marriage which violates its belief system.  The original bill also included the language “or any organization connected to a religious institution,” but it was deleted in committee.
    Anti-discrimination advocates and organizations, including businesses, are keeping a close eye on the legislation as it reaches the House floor for amendments that would be pro-discrimination.
    Should Johnson’s bill pass the House, it still needs Senate approval.  If the bill makes it through the Legislature, it is a good bet that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards would veto it.

JBE’s protective order
    Just one day after Rep. Mike Johnson’s bill won committee approval, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT people who work in state government.
    It provides protections for state employees and employees of state contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age.
    Similar executive orders were signed by former Democratic Governors Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco.  Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal rescinded the existing executive order and issued his own.
    Jindal’s executive order extended provisions included in Rep. Johnson’s Marriage and Conscience Act, which went down to defeat in last years regular legislative session in the Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.
    Many in the Legislature and the business community felt that Jindal’s executive order was not only unnecessary, but was bad for business, tourism, and the state’s economy.
    “The previous administration’s executive order I  am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda,” Gov. Edwards said.  He added, “It does nothing but divide our state and forced the business community, from Louisiana’s smallest businesses to  large corporations, like IBM, to strongly oppose it.”
    Lampton Enochs, CEO of Oscar-winning Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, said, “This is a step in the right direction and supports Moonbot’s mission to recruit the best talent in the country, no matter the candidate’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Lou Gehrig Burnett

Lou Gehrig Burnett is the publisher of Fax-Net, a North-Louisiana newsletter.


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