Yesterday, Governor Jindal opened his final State of the State Address acknowledging a host of challenges facing the state in his final year in office. As expected, he gave a forceful defense of Rep. Mike Johnson’s so-called “Marriage and Conscience Act,” or House Bill 707, which has been a focus of Forum for Equality, its partners in the Freedom Louisiana coalition, and indeed the entire country.
We have laid out our significant concerns with this law and how it will affect all Louisianans, which is why we were so surprised by what Gov. Jindal had to say after defending the law. In his State of the State address, Gov. Jindal explicitly mentioned LGBT persons, explaining that “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.” The underlines in that quote, by the way, were supplied by the Governor in his copy of the speech!
The truth is, Louisiana law currently DOES allow restaurants, or employers, or housing, or places of public accommodation to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression – you can be denied service at a bakery in most of Louisiana for being gay. Won’t you join us in calling out Governor Jindal for his misstatement of the law and let your legislators know that you oppose HB 707?
We have long suspected that this misguided bill was nothing more than an attempt to enshrine discrimination against LGBT individuals and couples. In its overly broad attempt to do so, it would ensnare countless other couples, as we have explained in our thorough analysis of the bill.
Yours in Equality,
Executive Director, Forum for Equality