Metro Weekly

Bobby Jindal sued over anti-gay executive order

Plaintiffs claim "religious freedom" order violates Louisiana Constitution and "sanctions discrimination"

Jindal. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Jindal – Photo: Gage Skidmore

Bobby Jindal had better get the lawyers ready. 

The ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, the Forum for Equality Foundation and six individual plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit challenging an executive order issued by the Louisiana governor that would allow people to discriminate against same-sex couples.

The “Marriage and Conscience Order,” as issued by Jindal in May, prohibits the state or its agents from denying tax exemptions or credits, grants, contracts, certification or accreditation from a person or business who refuses to provide services to LGBT people if they believe that doing so would violate their personal moral or religious beliefs regarding homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Jindal, a Republican presidential hopeful, issued the order after a bill that was similar in scope failed to obtain enough votes to move out of committee in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that Jindal’s order is unconstitutional because it goes beyond his authority as governor, as spelled out by the separation of powers clause in the Louisiana state constitution. The lawsuit also alleges that the order creates a special class of people and businesses who are protected due to their opposition to marriage equality, while other people and businesses who support marriage equality are not afforded those same rights. As a result of the protections afforded to only those who oppose marriage equality, the plaintiffs argue that the order essentially “sanctions discrimination” against not only same-sex couples, but those who support them.

“Governor Jindal’s unauthorized taking of the legislature’s power to make new laws or change existing laws violates the Louisiana Constitution,” the lawsuit reads. “Governor Jindal’s ‘Marriage and Conscience Order’ also exceeds the authority granted to him for issuing executive orders. The governor is given authority to issue executive orders to see that laws are faithfully executed. The statute does not give the governor the authority to create a new law or overrule the legislature’s decision to not pass a law.”

“Governor Jindal has violated the Louisiana Constitution by setting up special protections for those who share his belief system,” said Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana. “In our country no one is above the law, including the Governor. He swore to uphold the laws of Louisiana. This lawsuit seeks to hold him to that oath.”

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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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