BATON ROUGE, La. — Lawmakers in Louisiana on Tuesday killed an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, but which opponents said could sanction discrimination against same-sex couples.
The proposed law would prohibit the state from denying individuals, businesses and nonprofits any licenses, benefits, jobs or tax deductions because of action taken “in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction” about marriage.
The House Civil Law Committee voted 10-2 Tuesday for a procedural move designed to kill the proposal, ending weeks of controversy about the bill and handing Jindal a significant defeat for his legislative agenda.
Equality Louisiana has more:
Our legislators decided that Louisiana would not be the next Indiana and voted to return HB 707 to the calendar, effectively killing the bill.
Among the testimony against the bill was Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.
“Over the past eight years, Louisiana has enjoyed unprecedented economic renaissance,” said Hecht. “We are beginning to convince the world that Louisiana is a great place for business. HB 707 threatens the pillars of economic development. It threatens our business conditions and will make it harder to recruit workers to Louisiana.”
Equality Louisiana President Baylor Boyd said he is proud of the committee for voting in line with the values of everyday Louisianians.
“Bills that run the risk of legalizing discrimination, even inadvertently, undermine the core American value of religious freedom and turn neighbor against neighbor,” said Boyd. “We’ve said all along that this bill does not reflect the Louisiana we know and love, and today’s vote confirms that.”
Sponsor Rep. Mike Johnson, a Bossier City Republican, said he is not giving up and will try to force another hearing on the bill. But lawmakers have said the state has more pressing concerns, particularly a hefty budget shortfall.