NOLA Mayor Critiques Jindal’s Stance on Gays

NEW ORLEANS (CN) – New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Thursday responded to Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order allowing businesses not to serve same-sex couples with an order of his own – one that clarifies that New Orleans is a city that accepts differences in belief and thrives from diversity.
     The mayor’s order followed a New York state lawmaker’s request that a travel ban be issued on Louisiana following Jindal’s issuance of an executive order Tuesday that prohibits the state from penalizing businesses that refuse to serve same-sex couples on the grounds of a religious belief that “marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman.”
     “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,” Mayor Landrieu said in a written statement.
     “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 principal. 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,” Landrieu said.
     New York State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell made the Louisiana travel ban request following a similar travel ban New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued last March on Indiana, in response to Indiana “religious freedom” legislation.
     “Following a failure of legislation there that would have enabled state-sponsored discrimination against LGBT citizens under the guise of religious freedom, Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order seeking the same despicable end as the bill,” O’Donnell’s letter says.
     “When the state of Indiana passed legislation which similarly targeted its LGBT citizens, I was very proud and appreciative that you banned non-essential travel to the Hoosier state,” the letter continues.
     “I ask you to take that step again and ban non-essential travel to Louisiana. Our state’s employees should not be put in a situation where they can legally be discriminated against or made to feel unsafe, and our state must not support Governor Jindal’s campaign against LGBT individuals. We must move our business to places that treat their citizens equally and fairly.”
     Jindal, in issuing his executive order Tuesday, said it is necessary because religious freedoms are under threat in the United States, especially pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a landmark, expected on June 18.
     Jindal’s executive order says that while it grants businesses to reject patronage from same-sex couples for religious reasons it is important “that this principal not be construed to authorize any act of discrimination.”
     “We don’t support discrimination in Louisiana and we do support religious liberty,” Jindal said in a statement quoted by the New York Times. “Those two values can be upheld at the same time.”
     Mayor Landrieu’s order notes that Louisiana has already passed the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act in 2010 that prohibits government intrusion into exercise of religion, and that current New Orleans code prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.
     Landrieu’s order calls on all city employees to “cognizance and comply with all anti-discrimination laws of the City of New Orleans.”
     The city has a history of embracing same-sex individuals and partnerships, not just culturally, but also through its laws.
     In 1997, under former Mayor Marc Morial, the city extended health insurance benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian city employees.
     The council later passed a hate-crimes ordinance that prohibits intimidation based on sexual orientation and gender identification.

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