Metro Weekly

Jindal executive order prompts IBM to cancel Baton Rouge ribbon-cutting

Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore

Jindal by Gage Skidmore

To put politics into Biblical terms, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is now reaping what he has sown. 

The Republican presidential candidate and social issues crusader is currently receiving blowback from an executive order he issued in May that opponents say will allow discrimination against LGBT people under the guise of “religious freedom.” Jindal issued the order after the legislature failed to pass the Marriage and Conscience Act, which would have prohibited the Louisiana from retaliating against businesses who would deny service to LGBT people.

Fast forward a month, and now technology corporation IBM has cancelled a ribbon-cutting at the Baton Rouge headquarters of IBM’s new National Service Center. IBM previously sent Jindal a letter expressing the company’s opposition to the proposed measure, citing its concerns over being able to recruit and keep talent. “A bill that legally protects discrimination based on same-sex marriage status will create a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company’s values,” wrote IBM vice president James Driesse. “IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law.”

Jindal, for his part, continues to insist that his executive order does not condone discrimination, but merely protects people’s freedom of conscience as it relates to same-sex marriage. 

The ribbon-cutting, which was scheduled for today, has not been rescheduled. The executive order will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the next legislative session in 2016.

This is not the first time that Jindal, whose governorship ends at the end of this year, has received backlash for issuing the executive order. Soon after, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) issued his own executive order aimed at counteracting any fallout, such as possible boycotts of the city or the cancellations of major conventions or sporting events, which would be harmful to the tourist trade. In a swipe at Jindal, Landrieu said he hoped his own executive order would make it clear that New Orleans “is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity and welcomes people from all walks of life with open arms.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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