Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday that he intends to sign the ”Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act” into law when it crosses his desk. In a written statement, Jindal spokesperson Shannon Bates Dirmann wrote:
Yes, we support the bill. This is a common sense bill that provides necessary protections for individuals to prevent adverse treatment from the state based on religious beliefs regarding marriage.
The bill was introduced into the Louisiana legislature by State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City). The legislation would allow private businesses to refuse to recognize legal same-sex marriages. The law is more far-reaching than the controversial Indiana “religious freedom” law which sparked national outrage. The Louisiana measure would grant a private company the right to deny gay and lesbian couples the same benefits that they provide for straight married couples.
University of Virginia Law Professor Douglas Laycock described the Louisiana bill as more extreme than many similar anti-gay measures passed by other states. Laycock notes:
It would be a license to the private sector to refuse, for religious or moral reasons, to recognize same-sex marriages. It covers not just churches and religious organizations, but also the for-profit sector, and with no limit on size or diversity of ownership.
Governor Jindal may be under the illusion that he can sign the measure without enduring the public backlash that greeted Indiana Governor Mike Pence, when Pence signed Indiana’s “religious freedom” right to discriminate law. Louisiana still lags well behind the rest of the nation in support for marriage equality. A 2015 LSU poll found 51 percent of Louisiana residents oppose marriage equality, compared to 42 percent who support it.
Nevertheless, a substantial percentage of Louisiana residents support marriage equality. Furthermore, a high percentage of visitors to the state also favor marriage equality, so Jindal may be underestimating the potential backlash to passing a discriminatory law.
Jindal spends much of his time surrounded by right-wing ideologues, so he may not have his pulse on public opinion. On Good Friday, Jindal attended an Iowa prayer breakfast with Duck Dynasty celebrity Willie Robertson. The Louisiana Governor even quipped that Robertson would make a fine running mate. Jindal has a point. If he chose Willie Robertson as his running mate, it would be an honest selection, that highlights just how dead serious the Republican Party is about wanting to continue waging a culture war against gay and lesbian Americans.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.