(AP/Molly Riley)

Bobby Jindal presses Louisiana GOP to pass "religious freedom" bill that would put Indiana's to shame

State is already $1.6 billion in debt, but he could be polling in double-digits if social cons support him.


Scott Eric Kaufman
April 17, 2015 9:15PM (UTC)

Republicans in Louisiana are moving forward with a religious freedom bill that, as Steve Benen reports, will likely put Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act to shame.

Governor Bobby Jindal is pushing his Republican colleagues in the state House to pass the "Marriage and Conscience Act" before this legislative session -- which will be his last -- concludes. He told MSNBC's Jane Timm that the bill "is not about discriminating against anyone or about judging people. This is simply about protecting the essential religious freedom rights in the First Amendment."

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Unlike the Indiana bill, which merely offered those who discriminated against the LGBT community a legal defense that could, if a judge agreed they acted in accordance with their conscience, be used to justify their actions, the Louisiana bill would grant people of faith blanket protection against any government action.

Critics of the act are worried that the boycotts that followed Indiana Governor Mike Pence signing his state's bill into law will also happen in Louisiana -- whose economy is already in desperate financial straits thanks to the Jindal administration's reckless fiscal policies.

IBM, which has a technology services delivery center in Baton Rouge, has already written to Jindal and implored him not to sign the a bill "that legally protects discrimination based on same-sex marriage status [and] creates a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company's values."

As Benen notes, this is exactly the kind of fight that Jindal wants at this moment, as he is currently polling in the single digits among Republican presidential candidates. An ugly, protracted fight is exactly what he needs to bring himself to national prominence and more firmly establish his credentials among conservative Christians.

When he spoke to MSNBC, he seemed utterly unconcerned with the potential economic impact the act could have on Louisiana. "I am concerned about the erosion of religious liberty rights that is happening today in our country," he said. "We must fight with everything we have to protect it."


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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