Judge: Lawsuit challenging Jindal’s ‘Marriage and Conscience’ executive order headed to trial _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions at a press conference in front of the Governor's Mansion about his decision to drop out of the U.S. Presidential race, the state budget deficit, Syrian refugees coming into the state and other topics.

A lawsuit is headed to trial that claims Gov. Bobby Jindal violated the state constitution by issuing an executive order barring Louisiana from denying or revoking tax exemptions and deductions, contracts and other pacts based on a person’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

State District Judge Todd Hernandez refused Wednesday to throw out the suit filed in Baton Rouge by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Louisiana and other gay rights advocates.

The judge said he will set a trial date.

Hernandez, who held a hearing in the case last month, stated in his one-page ruling that the dispute presented in the suit is ripe for his consideration.

The state had asked for the suit to be thrown out.

The ACLU, Forum for Equality Foundation and several individuals contend Jindal’s May 19 “Marriage and Conscience Order” illegally creates a protected class of religious believers — those who support the traditional view of marriage between a man and woman.

The suit was filed four days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Jindal’s attorneys say the religious protections his order seeks to ensure already are guaranteed by state and federal law — the state law being Louisiana’s Preservation of Religious Freedom Act of 2010.

Jindal has said his executive order applies only to the executive branch.

The order is set to expire 60 days after the 2016 legislative session, unless the next governor — either U.S. Sen. David Vitter or state Rep. John Bel Edwards — decides to extend it or rescind it. The gubernatorial runoff election is Saturday. The winner takes office in January.