Former Jindal Employer: Governor's executive order on religious freedom doesn't carry weight

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor Bobby Jindal took some backlash Wednesday in response to his executive order issued Tuesday after the House Civil Law Committee voted 10-2 to kill House Bill 707.

"Well, we were very disappointed and frankly a little embarrassed," said Stephen Perry, president & CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitor's Bureau. Jindal used to report to him when Perry was Chief of Staff in the Foster Administration.

"I think my executive order is a very important reaffirmation of our First Amendment rights," said Gov. Jindal.

Jindal said his executive order protects business owners or anyone for that matter of any faith who religiously believes in a traditional marriage from punitive government actions.

St. Paul Lutheran Church Pastor Michael Button said that's just an excuse.

"It seems to create the possibility for people to discriminate against gay and lesbian people in all sorts of ways merely on the basis of what they claim to be their religious belief," said Button.

The governor said his order aims to uphold the constitution and state law. He added it only applies to the executive branch, which includes state leaders like the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General and more but does not apply to judicial or enforcement branches.

However, Perry said the governor's order is not legally sound and will not have any major impact on businesses coming to Louisiana.

"The executive order is not permitted by the constitution of Louisiana, and that it's effect will be very, very limited and have very little effect on Louisiana law," said Perry.

The governor stresses his order has been taken out of context when, "All my executive order does simply says this state will not discriminate against Christian individuals, business owners or others of other faiths who have a traditional view of marriage. I think it's the right thing to do."

However, according to Rep. Walt Leger, House Speaker Pro Temp, the governor needs to be focusing on more important issues like the budget.

"It does not reflect Louisiana's values, and it is damaging to our state's image and economy," said Leger. "I think I speak for the vast majority of Louisianans when I say January cannot come soon enough. It is truly time to turn the page of history towards a more inclusive and prosperous future."

The governor's executive order expires 60 days after the 2016 legislative session. When another governor comes into office, he or she could immediately rescind or even extend it.

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