GOP Lawmaker Pushing Even Broader Religious Freedom Law

A Louisiana lawmaker has introduced an anti-gay religious freedom bill that is broader than the controversial one Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) pushed in Indiana and then was forced to clarify after national criticism.

The Louisiana bill, introduced by state Rep. Mike Johnson, lets businesses refuse to serve same sex couples, just like the one in Indiana.

But the Louisiana proposal also goes a step further and allows a private company to not offer benefits to same-sex married couples if there are religious objections, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune. Notably, the legislation also blocks the Louisiana government from taking away state contracts and tax benefits from business owners because of the owners’ views on same-sex marriage.

In Louisiana, some local parishes (New Orleans, Shreveport) have ordinances that protect gay people from employment discrimination. Johnson’s bill would not affect local parishes so those protections would stay in place, the Times Picayune said.

But the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for rights for same-sex couples, warned that the law could still challenge those municipal protections.

“Passing a law like this would put the enforcement of these sorts of municipal protections at risk,” the HRC’s Adam Talbott told TPM. “It opens them up to challenge in court and obviously our position is that LGBT people should have reliable non-discrimination protections no matter where they live.”

Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal hasn’t weighed in on the proposal yet but he was a vocal supporter of the Indiana law and a similar proposal in Arkansas.

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