Mitch Landrieu opposes proposed Louisiana "religious freedom" bill

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Marchers in the 2013 Southern Decadence parade in New Orleans carry signs promoting "The Gay Agenda," which includes items like "Spend Time With Family" and "Be Treated Equally." - CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • Marchers in the 2013 Southern Decadence parade in New Orleans carry signs promoting "The Gay Agenda," which includes items like "Spend Time With Family" and "Be Treated Equally."

Edited to add: Mayor MItch Landrieu's communications director Brad Howard sent an amended statement this afternoon, which reads in its entirety:

“New Orleans has always been an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity. Discrimination in any form should not be tolerated, and New Orleans has passed its own laws to reflect that principle.

“We should always search for common ground and ensure Louisiana is a state where religious liberty and freedoms are protected and discrimination is prohibited. As we move forward on this important debate, I encourage our state legislature to embrace both the principles of religious freedom and fair and equal treatment under the law."


New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has come out in opposition to State Rep. Mike Johnson's "Marriage and Conscience Act," a bill similar to the controversial "religious freedom" bills recently passed in Indiana and Oklahoma. In a statement provided to Gambit, Landrieu is quoted as saying: “New Orleans has always been an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity. Discrimination in any form should not be tolerated, and New Orleans has passed its own laws to reflect that principle.”

Landrieu joins Stephen Perry, head of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, who yesterday issued a statement expressing the CVB's opposition to the bill, saying in part, "Refusing goods and services to anyone, or discriminating against others under the cloak of religious freedom tramples on these inalienable rights. It could well open a Pandora’s Box of exceptions that would comprise a slippery slope to a divided society."

Both Indiana and Oklahoma have faced criticism from tourism and business communities, as well as LGBT organizations, for their "religious freedom" bills. While supporters say the language merely protects the rights of the religious, critics say they open the door to discrimination in services and housing, particularly among LGBT people. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the act.

Louisiana's version of the bill goes farther than that in bills passed in other states. Johnson's proposed legislation specifically singles out gays and lesbians, saying that nothing in the bill "shall be construed to require that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals may be valid or recognized, or that the state of Louisiana may recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman."

New Orleans has traditionally been the most accepting city in Louisiana for LGBT citizens. In 1999, the City Council passed a sweeping ordinance barring discrimination in business, housing and public accommodations based on a variety of characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identification. While the state constitution prohibits both same-sex marriage and civil unions, the city of New Orleans has maintained a domestic partnership registry since 1993, and has offered insurance benefits to same-sex partners of city employees since 1997.

Last year, Landrieu became the first mayor of a major Louisiana city to endorse same-sex marriage. A survey published by Louisiana State University earlier this week found more than 58 percent of residents in the New Orleans metropolitan area in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

Read more about Johnson's "Marriage and Conscience Act" and an opposing proposal, State Rep. Austin Badon's "Louisiana Nondiscrimination Act." 


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