BATON ROUGE, LA, May 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The Louisiana legislature may have failed to protect religious liberty, but the state's Republican governor is taking up the slack.
On Tuesday, the Louisiana House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted 10-2 to “return [H.B. 707] to the calendar.” The maneuver effectively kills the bill, which would protect religious liberty related to marriage in Louisiana, for the rest of the legislative session.
Within hours, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order that essentially replaced H.B. 707, also known as the “Marriage Protection Act.” The Executive Order, seen in full here, says that the state's existing religious freedom law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent protect religious liberty when it comes to same-sex “marriage.”
According to the order, “All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the state are authorized and directed to comply with the restrictions placed upon government action in the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act and, including more specifically, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with his religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”
The order declares that government agencies “shall take no adverse action to” affect a person's tax status, professional status — including, but not limited to, receiving government grants, loans, licenses, or the ability to be hired — or state benefits.
Of the committee's 12 members who voted on H.B. 707 — one Republican, Cameron Henry, did not vote — six were Democrats and six were Republicans. The two votes in favor of H.B. 707 came from Raymond Garofalo and Mike Johnson, who are part of the GOP.
Neil Abramson, the chairman of the Committee, is a Democrat appointed by the House's Republican speaker. The committee has 7 Republicans and six Democrats.
Jindal, who on Monday created an Exploratory Committee to possibly run for president of the United States in 2016, has publicly supported H.B. 707 for some time, including in a New York Times op-ed. In the op-ed, the Catholic governor said that “a pluralistic and diverse society like ours can exist only if we all tolerate people who disagree with us.”
“That’s why religious freedom laws matter,” wrote Jindal, who signed the state's existing religious liberty law in 2010.
The main section of Jindal’s executive order:
All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the state are authorized and directed to comply with the restrictions placed upon government action in the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act and, including more specifically, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with his religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, shall take no adverse action to:
A. Deny or revoke an exemption from taxation pursuant to La. R.S. 47:287.501 of the person who is acting in accordance with his religious belief.
B. Disallow a deduction for state tax purposes of any charitable contribution made to or by such person.
C. Deny or exclude such person from receiving any state grant, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, employment, or other similar position or status.
D. Deny or withhold from such person any benefit under a state benefit program.
E. Deny, revoke, or suspend the accreditation, licensing, or certification of any person that would be accredited, licensed, or certified for purposes of Louisiana law but-for a determination against such person on the basis that the person acts in accordance with his own religious belief.