A Louisiana House Committee today voted down HB 707, an anti-gay 'religious freedom bill' favored by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. In the wake of its defeat, Jindal remained defiant, vowing to enact key provisions of the bill through executive order.
More on the bill from WAFB:
HB 707, known as the "Marriage and Conscience Act," is before the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee. The legislation would prohibit the state from denying any resident, nonprofit or business a license, benefits or tax deductions because of actions taken "in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction" about marriage. Those in favor of the legislation say it protects religious freedoms, while those against insist it allows open season on discrimination.
A broad coalition was assembled today at a "packed House Committee room" where the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure heard arguments from both advocates for and objectors to the proposed law. Leaders from the business, faith and LGBT communities spoke against the bill.
"We’re beginning to convince the world that Louisiana is one of the best places in the world to do business," said Michael Heck, the president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, a regional business development alliance. "These gains are real but fragile. Companies think [HB 707] will make it harder to recruit workers to Louisiana." Governor Jindal has previously been unswayed by leaders in the business community who have urged him to jettison the anti-gay bill if for no other reason than it's bad for business.
Though HB 707 was defeated in committee by a vote of 10-2, Jindal told The Advocate that his office will issue an executive order pushing through the 'meat' of the bill, a move meant to, temporarily at least, make impotent the legislature which did not see eye to eye with Jindal's anti-gay agenda. Said Jindal in a press release:
“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar. We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.
“This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”