Marriage equality advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging an executive order Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed last month. The complaint alleges that Jindal acted beyond his constitutional authority as governor in signing the order, known as the “Marriage and Conscience Order.”
Jindal signed the order after a legislative proposal that would have prevented the government from taking action against individuals or business for their religiously-motivated opposition to same-sex marriage failed to advance in the state House.
Though there was some confusion what exactly the order would do when it was initially signed, Tuesday’s complaint alleges that, in light of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, it would create a special class of people who would be allowed to deny gay couples their constitutionally-protected right to marry.
The lawsuit was filed in state court in Baton Rouge by ACLU-Louisiana, Forum for Equality Foundation, and six individual plaintiffs.
Jindal’s order said it should “not be construed to authorize any act of discrimination.” A spokeswoman for the Gov. Jindal also told TPM in May that it would only apply to functions of the Louisiana executive branch and not to local governments, including parish clerks who did not wish to grant gay couples marriage licenses, despite language in the order suggesting otherwise.
Since Friday’s marriage ruling, however, the governor’s office has signaled that local officials who desired to opt out of granting gay couples marriage licenses were protected under the executive order.
Tuesday’s complaint says that, especially with this clarification, Jindal’s order “sanctions discrimination against same-sex marriage couples, same-sex couples seeking to marry and persons who believe in marriage equality for all couples.” It asserts that Jindal’s order would allow state-contracted businesses to discriminate against those in same-sex marriages, and additionally, “sends the message that same-sex couples, their families and friends, and supportive employers should avoid living, working, or visiting Louisiana.”
Jindal issued a statement Tuesday responding to the lawsuit.
“This Executive Order protects religious liberty. The ACLU used to defend civil liberties, now it appears they attack them. The Left likes to pick and choose which liberties they support at any given time, and it seems to me that religious liberty has fallen out of favor with them,” he said. “Well, I’m not going to be swayed by the latest opinion poll or left wing lawsuit. Religious liberty is fundamental to our freedom as Americans and I will not back down from defending it.”
Read the full complaint below:
Updated: This story has been updated to include Gov. Jindal’s response.