Louisiana House Bill 707, the “Marriage and Conscience Act” filed by Rep. Mike Johnson has been proposed to provide legal protections for any individual in business to act on the basis of religious conviction regarding same-sex marriage and being able to deny services to those individuals merely because of the individual in business’ religious beliefs in the traditional definition of marriage, which is marriage between a man and woman.

According to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent New York Times editorial, this bill would not “protect discrimination” or legalize discrimination. This bill would only assure that courts do not take negative actions against any person because of their religious belief in denying service to anyone because of sexual orientation. This bill claims to be in favor of religious liberty, which is already protected by the constitution and laws of Louisiana. Louisiana should not be supporting any religious beliefs that are against the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender community because the community is already being exposed to bullying, discrimination and violence. HB707 would affect the LGBT community by reducing access to many benefits, such as health services, doctors’ services, restaurants and other businesses that refuse services to members of the LGBT community in the name of religious freedom.

This bill would allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against people whose marriages do not conform to a specific group of religious beliefs. This bill would limit the state from taking any type of legal action to stop discrimination against the LGBT community.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created to help protect every human being, regardless of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation or any other attribute. If this bill is passed, it would show that the state of Louisiana is accepting that people are being discriminated against and they are not being treated as human beings. Everyone is born with the ability to think and know right from wrong, and should act toward others in a spirit of kindness. For example, judging someone because of his or her sexual orientation is no different from judging someone because of his or her color. It’s not fair because everyone is a human being, and all deserve recognition and respect.

It is everyone’s moral right to help and protect members of the LGBT community and all people from discrimination no matter their sexual orientation, race or gender because everyone is equal in his or her own way. Louisiana citizens should come together to stop the passing of HB707, and Jindal should understand that everyone is a human being and should never be discriminated against because of his or her sexual orientation.

LaResha Gilmore

counselor

Baton Rouge