Louisiana is the latest state in the US to pass a religious freedom act that legally allows businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal went against a vote in the state legislature to not advance the religious freedom bill and issued an executive ordered to pass a law that allows businesses to discriminate. Jindal, who has begun a presidential exploratory committee, has already received widespread criticism, as states like New York begin to ban non-essential travel to the state and even the city of New Orleans immediately issued a statement condemning the law.
New Orleans Tourism writes in a letter:
The New Orleans tourism industry, along with other state business sectors and leaders, after reviewing the Governor’s executive order, and consulting with constitutional law experts and executive counsels to former governors who are experts on executive orders, are certain that, based on the LouisianaConstitution and recent court rulings, the enactment of any substantive law changes made by the governor in his executive order are invalid and have no impact on Louisiana law.
This executive order is largely a political statement by our conservative governor in support of his national position on the issue. That is certainly his right. It is important for those who visit Louisiana to know that its effect in essence is that of a political campaign document.
Unlike expansive laws proposed and passed, then revisited, in Indiana and Arkansas due to the public and business outcry, the Louisiana law proposed was very narrow. The law would have prohibited the state from taking four specifically delineated actions such as revocation of business licenses or revocation of tax standing against individuals or businesses who take certain actions considered in compliance with their religious beliefs solely as relate to same sex marriage, whether for or against such marriages. Rep. Johnson also proposed amendments that would have specifically prohibited discrimination in the marketplace in the legislation.
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The bill that was discussed and voted down in committee today sought to address an issue that does not exist in our state – persecution of business owners by the state when practicing religious freedom. In fact, there is not one case pending in Louisiana of discrimination on the basis of views held on same-sex marriage…a strong statement on the openness, hospitality, and commitment to equality of all Louisiana businesses.
“There are NO pending cases of any Louisiana business and especially no hospitality businesses engaging in discrimination,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention Visitors Bureau. “New Orleans has historically demonstrated itself as one of the most welcoming, open, tolerant, and inviting communities in the world.”
In the state of Louisiana:
- This executive order has no effect on the law of Louisiana
- The Louisiana constitution prohibits an Executive Order from enacting substantive law.
Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation said “We will continue with our CVB and economic development partners to promote and market New Orleans and Louisiana as destinations for the world’s greatest vacations, conventions and meetings, and special events and as premier sites for economic growth and expansion that offer the ultimate in inclusiveness, tolerance, and acceptance with a dynamic, vibrant and entrepreneurial bent and culturally rich climate. This is a hallmark of who we are as people.”