The fight for “religious freedom” has come to the bayou. On Tuesday, May 19, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal officially placed his foot into the ideological quicksand, following the likes of Indiana’s Mike Pence and Arkansas’ Asa Hutchinson by signing an executive order declaring?new protections for businesses that refuse to provide services for same-sex couples.
Jindal’s executive order comes after a Statehouse committee failed to pass a bill that would have yielded a similar, yet less focused outcome. House Bill 707, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City), sought to carve out protections for people who oppose same-sex marriage, but had been met with hostile backlash after it was linked to other controversial “religious freedom” measures proposed in Indiana and Arkansas.
Committee chairman Neil Abramson called the bill “problematic,” which is presumably why Gov. Jindal’s pen had be drafted in service of its owner’s twisted values. From CNN:
“That panel’s concern: that Louisiana would look much like Indiana, where concerns that a new ‘religious freedom’ law would lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians triggered such a massive business backlash that it effectively ended the presidential prospects of another dark horse 2016 contender, GOP Gov. Mike Pence.”
Jindal’s executive order has raised concern from within the state. Business and tourism industry leaders in New Orleans have stated that a political maneuver such as Jindal’s recent executive order could alienate visitors and deal a blow to businesses. Given what has been observed in Indiana and Arkansas, I think it’s safe to say the concern in justified. From The Advocate:
“Todd Chambers, chairman of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that bidding against other states and cities for large-scale events would be impossible if the bill passed.”
‘They will take the path of least resistance. They just will.”
“Large companies, like IBM and Dow Chemical, have come out against the measure.”
Backlash from Dow Chemical and IBM, the former being the fifth-largest private sector employer in the state, seem eerily reminiscent of Wal-Mart’s attack on Asa Hutchinson’s “religious freedom” measure last month and could ultimately contribute to more businesses attacking?Jindal’s executive order, similar to what happened in Indiana with Angie’s List, Apple, the NCAA, and (surprisingly) NASCAR.
I would not be surprised if #BoycottIndiana evolved into #BoycottLouisiana pretty soon. Social media is typically proficient in matters such as these.
It never ceases to amaze me when Republicans like Bobby Jindal try to cloak their bigotry in scripture or in law. Tossing around a phrase like “religious freedom” may work for those who fail to understand that same-sex marriage does nothing to their religious values or to the sanctity of their own heterosexual marriages.
But the reality of “religious freedom,” in the modern conservative context, has exactly the same meaning it had in the past when “religious freedom” was used to justify many of the atrocities committed in the United States over its short history. Using “religious freedom” to continue denying LGBT Americans a basic right enjoyed by their heterosexual neighbors is, simply put, using “religious freedom” to disenfranchise a group of people based on an intrinsic human characteristic and deliberately circumventing the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Religious freedom is already constitutionally protected and is in no danger of being infringed. Unfortunately, Republicans like Bobby Jindal fail to understand that. To bastardize a quote from one of the greatest swordsmen of the fantasy genre:
“You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”