Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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New Orleans Mayor Counters Jindal's Order With One of Acceptance for All

New Orleans Mayor Counters Jindal's Order With One of Acceptance for All

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants the world to know that despite Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s antigay “conscience protection” order, the good times are still rolling for LGBT people and everyone else in the Big Easy.

Thursday, two days after Jindal issued an executive order that essentially put the state’s Marriage and Conscience Act into effect after legislators failed to pass it, Landrieu issued an executive order of his own, saying that New Orleans will not tolerate discrimination, reports New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune.

“The purpose of this Executive Order is to confirm for the residents of the City of New Orleans, its businesses and visitors that religious beliefs are protected from unjustified governmental burden, but that there is no tolerance in the City of New Orleans for discrimination on the basis of race, creed, national origin or ancestry, color, religion, gender or sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, marital or domestic partner status, age, physical condition or disability,” the order reads in part.

“With this executive order, I am issuing a clarifying call to the nation that New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity and welcomes people from all walks of life with open arms,” Landrieu said in a press release announcing the order. “In New Orleans, we believe religious liberty and freedoms should be protected and discrimination prohibited, and we have passed our own laws to reflect that principle. This executive order is an important, symbolic affirmation that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated in New Orleans — and it should not be tolerated anywhere in Louisiana.”

The Marriage and Conscience Protection Act died in a legislative committee Tuesday, but Jindal’s order, issued within two hours of the legislative action, is designed to accomplish the bill’s ends. It prohibits the state from taking any punitive action against an individual, business, organization, or nonprofit that “acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.” Essentially, it allows discrimination against same-sex couples and could potentially enable more widespread discrimination against LGBT people generally. The state does not allow same-sex couples to marry, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer could change that.

Louisiana does not ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but New Orleans does. Landrieu mentioned the New Orleans law in the introduction to his order; he also pointed out that the state already has a religious freedom law preventing government from substantially burdening an individual’s exercise of religion. 

Landrieu noted that there has already been some backlash to Jindal’s order, which could negatively affect the state’s ability to attract employers, conventions, and special events. New York State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, for instance, has asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban nonessential state-funded travel to Louisiana, The Times-Picayune reports. And the Drupal Association, which organizes a conference for open-source software developers, announced that it would maintain plans to hold its 2016 event in New Orleans, but only because of the city’s nondiscrimination law.

There are many critics of Jindal’s action within the state. After the Marriage and Conscience Protection Act died and Jindal announced plans to issue the order, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who represents a New Orleans district, gave a speech denouncing the governor’s action and the fact that he ran a commercial in Iowa touting his support for religious freedom. Jindal is exploring the idea of a run for the Republican presidential nomination — hence the targeting of a state that holds a caucus early in the candidate selection process. Watch Peterson’s speech below.

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