The legislation, House Bill 707, seeks to carve out protections for people who oppose same-sex marriage. It has been linked to controversial “religious freedom” measures in Indiana and Arkansas.
Despite strong backing from Gov. Bobby Jindal, Johnson’s bill has yet to be heard in committee.
In the video, which was paid for by Johnson’s campaign fund, Johnson sets out to defend the measure as an issue of protecting religious beliefs and necessary as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether same-sex marriage should be legal across the country. Currently, 37 states allow same-sex couples to wed. Louisiana voters in 2004 adopted a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage here, but the state has seen growing support for since.
Johnson’s legislation would bar the state from revoking the licenses of or refusing to contract with businesses or people because they oppose same-sex marriage. It also would protect tax statuses of groups that only support marriage between a man and a woman.
Critics argue the bill could encourage discrimination against gay people and lesbians. Equality Louisiana and other groups in support of gay rights have launched a “Not My Louisiana” campaign against the proposal.
The legislation was the only bill Jindal individually referenced during his State of the State speech opening the legislative session last month.
“This idea that all men should have the freedom of belief and the free exercise of religion has been a central principle of our republic since the time of its founding,” Johnson says in the new video as ominous music plays in the background. “The founders understood that this right of conscience and belief is the most basic inalienable right that we have.”
According to a finance report filed in January, Johnson’s campaign fund had about $21,000 in the bank.