Lawmakers in the State of Louisiana this week voted down Republican Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposed law, dubbed the “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which, had it been enacted, would have explicitly allowed all businesses and even state agencies to discriminate against gays.
Gov. Jindal, known for his vociferous criticism of President Obama’s penchant for issuing executive orders bypassing the will of Congress, immediately issued his own executive decree effectively bypassing the Louisiana State Legislature. His decree is nearly identical to the failed measure. In the name of “religious liberty” it permits every business and state agency, e.g. shops, restaurants, hotels, banks and social services offices to refuse service to gay couples.
Of course, it is no coincidence that Jindal is considering running for President of the United States on the GOP ticket in 2016. This is his way of pandering to the ultra-right-wing evangelical religious bigots in the party who believe that dictating social issues is the number one responsibility of the president.
It’s part of his campaign statement to the faithful residing on the extremist GOP fringe. After all, he has to compete with the likes of fellow travelers Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush and the rest of the hysterical political mob of GOP homophobes.
It also exemplifies the reason why mainstream American voters don’t like Republicans. Reasonable people these days are sick and tired of politicians arguing about inconsequential social and cultural issues which individuals ought to have the right to determine for themselves. The social issues bigots have ruined the Republican Party.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, the gay rights activists are going a bit too far attempting to trample upon the rights of others to freedom of expression and religion.
I’ve written on these pages many times my opinion that private businesses open to the public ought not be allowed to discriminate by denying services on purported religious grounds to gays. I stand by those posts. Bakers and florists, for example, should not be permitted to rely on religious grounds to circumvent Civil Rights Laws by denying their services to gays.
But while baking a cake or arranging flowers is one thing, expressing positive verbal sentiments which go against religious beliefs is quite another. The baker should not be forced by the law to put a same sex couple decoration on top of the cake or otherwise express on it words or depictions which support that which his religion forbids. Likewise, the florist should not be forced by the law to create expressions contrary to her religious beliefs.
A law court in Belfast County Ireland this week found that a bakery discriminated unlawfully against a gay rights activist by declining his request to decorate a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie, with the slogan: “Support Gay Marriage.” That decision is wrong in my opinion. The baker is obliged to provide the cake but not to express on it sentiments with which he does not agree. In the USA that baker would and should be protected by the First Amendment.
Yet even in the USA, despite our Constitution and Bill of Rights, we still find bigotry by decree in Louisiana.