Edwards still intends to rescind Jindal-era 'religious freedom' executive order

Published: Mar. 29, 2016 at 12:22 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2016 at 12:32 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards still intends to rescind a "religious freedom" executive order instituted last year by former Gov. Bobby Jindal, according to a spokesman for the governor.

The Marriage and Conscience Order, signed in the summer of 2015, prevented the state from denying or revoking tax exemptions and deductions, contracts, and employment to individuals who opposed same-sex marriage.

Some, including the group Equality Louisiana and the ACLU of Louisiana, criticized the executive order calling it discriminatory against the LGBT community.

In December, Edwards indicated that he would rescind the executive order once in office. His spokesman said in an email Monday they are "working through it."

Earlier on Monday, the Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial "religious liberty" bill that allowed faith-based organizations to deny services to those who violate their "sincerely held religious belief." It also allowed them to fire employees not in line with those beliefs.

Many companies, including Disney, Apple, and Time Warner urged the governor to veto the measure.

Disney called the bill "discriminatory" and threatened to take projects elsewhere. Meanwhile, the NFL said the bill could put Atlanta's Super Bowl bids for 2019 and 2020 at risk.

The Jindal executive order is based on the Marriage and Conscience Act. He signed the order after the bill failed to make it out of the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee last year.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City. This year, he is sponsoring a bill called the Pastor Protection Act, HB 597.

That bill would make it so that a religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by a religious organization, an employee of a religious organization, or a member of the clergy would not be required to perform or provide services to a marriage that may counter their religious beliefs.

A spokesman for the Edwards administration said in an email that the governor has "serious concerns" about the proposed bill in its current form and is worried that it is "much more broad than the title suggests."

The governor supports what the title says and wants the bill to reflect that, according to the spokesman.

As for the executive order, If the administration does not act to rescind Jindal's action, it will expire 60 days after the end of the legislative session.

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