Earlier this week, Louisiana lawmakers came close to passing a harmful “religious freedom” bill that would have given virtually anyone the right to discriminate against LGBT people.
When they were not successful in passing it, Gov. Bobby Jindal took it upon himself to issue an executive order ensuring that anti-LGBT discrimination is alive, well and legal in his state.
Jindal’s “Marriage and Conscience Order” prohibits the state from intervening if an individual, business, organization or nonprofit takes action to assert that marriage is between one man and one woman. The order is literally designed to target LGBT people and their supporters.
When Indiana and Arkansas tried to pass similar “license to discriminate” laws, the huge public backlash led them to clarify that it was illegal to discriminate against LGBT people. Not so with Jindal’s order, which clearly holds the “personhood” of a corporation or church over that of an LGBT person.
The order’s definition of “person” is interpreted more broadly than some of the legal precedent it cites. Jindal’s order defines “person” as not only an individual but also “corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies,” in addition to “a church, association of churches or other religious order, [tax-exempt] body or institution.”
Defining “person” thusly, Jindal’s order prohibits the state as well as local departments, boards, and agencies from penalizing any “person” who “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 goes on to detail the types of punitive actions such state agencies may not take against a business or individual for acting on a religious belief regarding marriage. The state may not deny or revoke any person’s (or group’s) tax-exempt status or license to practice law, disallow a tax deduction for charitable donations, deny or exclude anyone from receiving a state grant, loan, license, certification, accreditation, or employment, or deny or withhold benefits from a state program.
While the order spends a great deal of time defining the word “person,” it notably does not define what actions are encompassed in a person acting in accordance with their religious beliefs on marriage. Similarly, it does not explicitly clarify that the order cannot be used to circumvent state nondiscrimination laws (which don’t include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity anyway).
I am furious at this. This goes beyond anti-marriage-equality laws or anti-adoption laws. This takes every single anti-LGBT belief a person could possibly hold and conveniently shapes them into legally sound reasons to fire somebody, kick them out of their home, deny them service, refuse to recognize their family during a time of crisis, and so much else. If and when Bobby Jindal announces he’s running for president, let that be a rallying cry for Americans to show up at the polls and vote against him with all their might. I want to scream.