Jindal’s end run around fairness and equality

Jindal.Bobby

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Just hours after a so-called “religious freedom” bill died in the Louisiana Legislature on Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Bobby Jindal had issued an executive order allowing businesses to discriminate based on owners’/operators’ religious beliefs on marriage.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will … prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The Times-Picayune notes Jindal told reporters the order was issued Tuesday afternoon and went into effect immediately. The order will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the next legislative session. The next governor, however, can repeal it upon entering office in January, if he or she chooses.

The New Orleans newspaper also quoted state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who criticized the timing of the order, as well as Jindal’s decision to buck the will of the Legislature.

“It’s a sinful attempt to deflect from the failures of what should be the top legislative priority, what we’re dealing with every day, which is a bogus state budget,” she said from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

The Washington Post today (Wednesday, May 20), noted that Jindal’s executive order nearly mirrors the content and intent of the failed “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which itself closely resembles Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like the one that was vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson after an outcry from businesses, led by Wal-Mart, and the one recently enacted in Indiana, throwing that whole state into an uproar and hitting the Hoosier pocketbook hard and fast.

A similar measure died last week in the Texas Legislature.

The Post notes that one of the main reasons the Marriage and Conscience Act died in the Louisiana Legislature is because lawmakers feared it would impact the state’s economy, and would be especially harmful to tourism in a state that thrives on its visitors:

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Stephen Perry called the bill “a radioactive, poisonous message,” saying it could cost the state $65 million per year.

But Jindal, in New York Times op-ed last month, said money doesn’t matter: “As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” he wrote.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk predicted that the executive order will substantially harm the tourism industry in the state. “Gov. Jindal’s stunt today once again underlines his disregard for Louisiana families, his disdain for the state legislature and his apparent contempt for the state’s tourism industry — the only segment of our economy his failed policies haven’t crippled,” Handwerk said.

The Post also pointed out that Jindal’s decision to stage an end run around the Legislature seems especially hypocritical, considering his attacks on President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders in connection with immigration reform.

—  Tammye Nash

Louisiana kills religious right to discriminate bill

Jindal.bobby

This bigot is governor of Louisiana

A religious freedom to discriminate bill that had been working its way through the Louisiana legislature died today (Tuesday, May 19), according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) said the proposed law was misunderstood and that it’s purpose was to come out before the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

Um, no, the bill was understood quite clearly. The Bossier City representative was trying to do just what Texas Republicans, like Rep. Linda Koop, were trying to do — pass a law that said the state didn’t have to follow a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and legalize discrimination as long as you use religion as your reason to discriminate.

The head of the New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau told the Advocate that it would be impossible to bid against other states for large events if the bill passed.

The bill died in committee when the chair of the House Civil Law Committee called the bill a distraction and problematic.

The Baton Rouge newspaper said the bill had “full throated support” from the state’s governor, Bobby Jindal.

—  David Taffet

Lesbian news briefs: Homophobic principal; homophobic pediatrician; homophobic day care

Louisiana school board president questions principal’s anti-lesbian ruling

Screen shot 2015-04-06 at 3.51.28 PM

Claudetteia Love

Monroe City School Board President Rodney McFarland said he has called a meeting with School Superintendent Brent Vidrine after Carroll High School Principal Patrick Taylor warned an openly lesbian student she would not be allowed to wear a tux to her prom.

According to the News Star, Carroll High School senior Claudetteia Love was going to boycott her prom after Taylor told her she could not wear a tuxedo to the event.

Love’s mother, Geraldine Jackson, said she Taylor told her that members of the faculty “working the prom told him they weren’t going to work the prom if [girls] were going to wear tuxes. That’s his exact words: ‘Girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that’s the way it is.”

Taylor reportedly said his decision was based upon the dress code and had nothing to do with Love’s sexuality. But McFarland wasn’t so sure.

“As school board president, I don’t agree with Carroll banning her from her prom just because of what she wants to wear. Tthat’s discrimination,” McFarland said. “As far as I know, there is no Monroe City School Board policy saying what someone has to wear to attend the prom. You can’t just go making up policies.”

Love is an honors student who will attend Jackson State University next year on a full academic scholarship. She said she was upset by the controversy, especially because the school had previously held her up as a shining example to the student body.

Love said she is concerned for girls “in lower grades than me, … I don’t want them to feel like they are less of a person because people don’t accept them.”

 

Pediatrician refuses to treat infant with lesbian parents

Michigan pediatrician Dr. Vesna Roi, despite having initially agreed to treat the infant daughter of Krista and Jami Contreras, backed out at the last minute because the child’s parents are lesbians, according to Inquisitor.com.

The couple said that Roi, a doctor with Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Mich., had been highly recommended by their midwife, and they had met with her before their daughter, Bay, was born. They said Roi didn’t express any doubts or misgivings then, they said.

But when they took their daughter in for her first appointment, another doctor greeted them, telling them that “Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for [your daughter],’”Jami Contreras told The Washington Post. “Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”

The two women said they were upset, hurt, embarrassed and humiliated. Jami Contreras said, “As far as we know Bay doesn’t have a sexual orientation yet so I’m not really sure what that matters. We’re not your patient — she’s your patient. And the fact is that your job is to keep babies healthy and you can’t keep a baby healthy that has gay parents?”

The Contreras continued with that first appointment but immediately began searching for another pediatric office, making sure that everyone they subsequently spoke to  knew up front that they were lesbians and would have no problems with that.

Several months after their appointment, Dr. Roi sent the couple a letter explaining, “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients.

“I felt that it was an exciting time for the two of you and I felt that if I came in and shared my decision it would take away much of the excitement. That was my mistake. I should not have made that assumption and I apologize for that.

“We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you. I should have spoken with you directly that day…please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice.”

According to CBS Detroit, there are currently no laws that protect LGBT families from discrimination.

 

Manitoba day care denies service to lesbian couple

Manitoba Attorney General James Allum says he is outraged by allegations a lesbian couple was denied a Winnipeg daycare spot for their baby girl because of their sexual orientation, according to The Canadian Press.

Allum said no one in this day and age should be denied service on that grounds. “That’s simply outrageous. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Agata Durkalec and her partner, Kate Taylor, say they are filing a human rights complaint after they say they were denied a Winnipeg daycare spot for their baby girl because of their sexual orientation.

The couple moved to Winnipeg from Ontario recently and began looking for a daycare for their 10-month-old daughter.

They thought they were in luck when they found an opening at a home daycare, but allege the daycare operator withdrew the offer in writing when she found out they are lesbians.

“My heart goes out to both of you but I know where my families stand on the subject, therefore it would not be a good fit,” the woman allegedly wrote to Durkalec. “I hope everything works out for you and your family.”

The couple, saying they were stunned by the response, picked up papers from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and will be filing a complaint, Durkalec said.

Although they are no longer interested in putting their daughter in the home daycare, Durkalec said it should be made clear that any discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong.

Allum said the allegations would be best handled by the human rights commission.

—  Tammye Nash

Louisiana case wraps up, Mississippi being heard

Robicheaux

Louisiana plaintiffs Jon Robicheaux and Derek Pinton

The plaintiffs in the Louisiana case that was heard at 9 a.m. by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Mississippi case is currently being heard.

Erin Moore reports from New Orleans that the cases are running late.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: More on the latest marriage ruling out of Louisiana

Adam Polaski at FreedomToMarry.org has posted this blog about the latest court ruling out of Louisiana on same-sex marriage, this time striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage.Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 4.24.40 PM

Polaski explains: “The case, In Re Costanza and Brewer, was filed in 2013 on behalf of Angela Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer, who are raising their 10-year-old son in Lafayette. The case sought respect for Angela and Chastity’s marriage license; since Louisiana did not respect their marriage, one mother was not permitted to legally adopt her son.

“The ruling today grants the second-parent adoption and affirms that the Louisiana amendment violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.”

Polaski calls Louisiana federal Judge Martin Feldman’s Sept. 3 upholding the same-sex marriage ban an “out-of-step decision,” and notes that “40 separate rulings have been issued since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples [and m]ore than 80 cases have been filed in state and federal courts across the country.”

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Louisiana state judge says marriage ban is unconstitutional

KLFY Channel 10 News in Lafayette is reporting that Louisiana State Judge Edward Rubin has ruled that the state’s law banning same-sex gavelmarriage is unconstitutional because it violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

That’s all I can find on the ruling right now, but Rubin’s ruling is in direct contrast to a ruling earlier this month by federal Judge Martin L. C. Feldman in Louisiana that the state’s gay marriage is not unconstitutional. Feldman’s ruling on Sept. 3 is the only ruling in favor of gay marriage bans.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Lawsuit challenges Louisana same-sex marriage ban

baton rougeFour couples in Louisiana are challenging the state’s ban on recognizing marriages performed out-of-state.

The couples are using discriminatory taxes as the basis of their lawsuit. State law requires taxpayers to use the same filing status — either single or married — on their state returns as on their federal returns. The IRS ruled that married same-sex couples may file joint returns whether they live in a marriage-equality state or not. Louisiana ruled that same-sex couples may not file joint returns.

Same-sex couples are faced with either breaking the law by providing a different status on their state tax returns or defying a ruling by the state Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield wrote last September.

“The taxpayer must provide the same federal income tax information on the Louisiana State Return that would have been provided prior to the issuance” of the IRS ruling, Barfield wrote.

Louisiana law directs taxpayers to use the same status on state tax returns that they use on federal returns. Because of the state constitution’s ban, the revenue department requires that a gay couple filing as married on a federal tax return must file a Louisiana return as single or head of household.

If Louisiana couples file joint federal returns and separate state returns, they may be paying higher taxes and would have higher tax preparation costs. Their suit claims it is discriminatory and requires them to file a false marital status.

The suit is based on federal equal protection and free speech rights. It is being filed a week after Attorney Gen. Eric Holder spoke at the New York City HRC dinner and said married same-sex couples would have all federal rights accorded opposite-sex couples.

The suit was announced the same day a San Antonio judge is set to hear a lawsuit by two Texas couples challenging the Texas marriage ban.

—  David Taffet

Arlington councilman dismisses constituents’ concerns about gas drilling with a gay joke

Mel LeBlanc

Arlington City Councilman Mel LeBlanc recently responded to a constituent’s concerns about gas drilling in the city by making a joke about gay sex, according to e-mails obtained by Instant Tea.

LeBlanc couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

According to copies of the e-mails, Arlington residents Ken and Kim Feil sent LeBlanc a copy of an article from The Advocate, a newspaper in Baton Rouge, La., about an oil and gas well blowout in that state. Arlington is considering changes to its gas drilling ordinance.

LeBlanc, who reportedly supports gas drilling, responded to the Feils’ e-mail by saying he thought The Advocate was a national gay publication — which it is; there is more than one Advocate — and asking what this has to do with “drilling holes in the … .” Then LeBlanc added, “oh, wait, I see” in an apparent attempt at humor. Here’s the e-mail:

___________________________

____________________________

So, should we be offended by this bad juvenile joke? From a gay standpoint, probably not. But if we were the Feils we’d probably be a little annoyed that LeBlanc is making light of their concerns about gas drilling. We’d say LeBlanc’s e-mail might also raise the question of how he knows about the gay Advocate.

We spoke with Kim Feil about the e-mail on Friday, and she said LeBlanc has already called her to apologize. But Feil, who calls herself an environmental activist, said based on her past experience with LeBlanc, she wasn’t surprised by his joke.

“It was expected,” Feil said. “He just evades facing the issues. He’s pretty consistent with being offensive.”

UPDATE: LeBlanc has posted a response in the comments below.

—  John Wright

Shreveport mayor issues executive order protecting LGBT employees

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover
Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover on Thursday, Dec. 17, issued an executive order protecting LGBT city employees there from discrimination in employment.

It was his first executive order as mayor.

The move puts Shreveport on the very short list of Louisiana cities offering such protections to their LGBT workers. Baton Rouge and New Orleans are the only other cities in that state to do so. And New Orleans is the only city that offers such protections to employees in the private sector.

ShreveportTimes.com
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—  admin

Louisiana JP denies marriage license to heterosexual couple

If you think the Texas Attorney General is a reactionary because he’d rather see a gay Dallas couple remain married than possibly recognizing their marriage in a sideways kind of way by allowing them to get legally divorced, you don’t have to look farther than Louisiana to see just how really bad things are.

Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay of Hammond, La., went to the justice of the peace to get a marriage license on Oct. 6. Just to be clear, Beth is a woman and Terence is a man. They wanted to get opposite-sex married.

But they live in Louisiana. And Humphrey and McKay are an interracial couple.

So Tangipahoa Parish Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell denied them a marriage license. It wasn’t because he is a racist, he insisted. Instead, he said, “My main concern is for the children.”

Yes, children of interracial couples are at a disadvantage in this country, mostly because bigots don’t accept them. Children of gay and lesbian couples have that same trouble. Bigots taunt and tease them and use their own harassing behavior as proof that those children have a difficult time.

However, despite what Mr. Bardwell thinks, children of interracial couples do grow up to become president of the United States and even win Nobel Peace prizes.

In his defense, Bardwell told Associated Press, “I try to treat everyone equally.”

By that he means it was nothing personal. He equally denies marriage licenses to any and all interracial couples. I can just imagine his reaction to a gay or lesbian couple applying for that same license from him. And an interracial gay or lesbian couple would probably give him apoplexy.

The American Civil Liberties Union is preparing a letter to the Louisiana Supreme Court to remove Bardwell from office.

ACLU attorney Katie Schwartzman said, “The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963 that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.”

Really? Tell that to Texas and 44 other states that deny gays and lesbians the right to marry.

— David Taffet

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—  admin