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1984George Orwell originated of the concept of doublethink in his novel 1984. Here is one of the earliest descriptions in the book:

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it…

It is mind blowing how relevant the novel remains to this day. It is unfortunate how common holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously is for today’s politicians. In fact, it seems to be a speciality of Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

From his opinion piece that was published yesterday in the New York Times:

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.

In Jindal-land, “big business and the radical left” who believe the Bill of Rights and US Constitution apply to LGBTQ people are bullies for trying to win equal rights and fair treatment while those who clamor for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people are brave soldiers in the front lines of a war defending religious liberty.

(hat tip to David Badash who posted his article as I was still rereading 1984 to find the right passage and to HRC who took a red pen to the editorial)

If his using religious freedom to describe religious tyranny wasn’t bad enough, his double speak about “tolerance” on Meet the Press or on Washington Watch or in his opening remarks to the 2015 Louisiana legislative session make my head hurt. On the one hand, he says discrimination is wrong and is against his faith. On the other, he defends those who want to subject others to discrimination just because of who they love.

The so-called “Marriage and Conscience Act” that Jindal wants to pass, provides that even where there is an existing legal obligation, the state cannot take any adverse action against anyone “on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction about the institution of marriage.” Representative Johnson’s proposed amendment changes that line to “on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

Let me lay down some truth about the bill:

  • Anyone (business or individual) would be able to discriminate against another person so long as those actions are based on religious beliefs and moral convictions about marriage.
  • It overrides professional licensing standards.
  • Anyone may assert an actual or threatened violation of their rights under the bill either to initiate a lawsuit or to defend against a lawsuit against the state.
  • It can’t be used to require the state, any official, or any state court to recognize marriages of same-sex couples.
  • It would allow lawsuits by employees against their employers for the employees’ own bigotry against LGBTQ folks and contrary to the employers’ own policies.
  • It would protect tax statuses of groups that only support marriage between a man and a woman.
  • It could be used to over-rule local anti-discrimination laws like those in New Orleans and Shreveport

The whole of the text makes it clear the state can take no action against a person if they act in accordance with their beliefs on marriage – no matter how discriminatory their actions may be. It would be left for individuals to initiate a private cause of action against someone discriminating against them. However, because there is no state law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in Louisiana, the chance any such lawsuit would be successful is minuscule.

People of faith have a right to their beliefs. However, if they choose to do business in the public square, they should not be allowed to use their faith to deny services to those whose beliefs on marriage are not aligned with theirs any more than they should be allowed to deny services based on race, color, sex, national origin, etc.

“Any law that encourages people to use religion to hurt other people is a bad law,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

I couldn’t have said it any clearer myself.

I am the Chair of Forum for Equality Louisiana and we are working very hard to defeat this bad bill and to advocate for our own bill – the Louisiana Non-discrimination Act (Text of the bill can be found here: HB 612). Please consider supporting our work with a donation or membership. Click HERE to invest in equality!

Thank you!