On Thursday, Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, warned of a coming wave of spousal beatings on the bayou if House Bill 707, the “Marriage and Conscience Act,” becomes law. Citing a litany of outlandish hypotheticals, it’s hard to believe Ms. Esman has even read the bill.

The ACLU and the homosexual activists together have built a tenacious political union; unfortunately, the credibility of their communication has become a casualty of their advocacy. The vast majority of the news articles written about HB 707 bear no resemblance to the actual language or effect of the bill.

The simple truth is HB 707 would only prevent the state of Louisiana from discriminating against individuals solely based on a deeply held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. For the record, the courts have a well-established process for validating a deeply held religious belief. “Beating one’s spouse” is not one of those validated beliefs.

HB 707 is timely and necessary in light of actual state action occurring around America. Efforts to suppress religious expression are occurring throughout the United States.

For example, in February, the Oregon Bureau of Labor ordered owners of a bakery to pay a lesbian couple $150,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake, despite the owners’ sincerely held religious belief that to “participate” in a same-sex ceremony would be wrong.

HB 707 simply prevents state actions like this from occurring in Louisiana. HB 707 is a shield to protect against claims of discrimination, not a sword that grants any authority to infract against another individual. HB 707 does not circumvent adjudication in a court of law, where these disputes should be decided. HB 707 does not give one party a distinct advantage over another in any of these claims. HB 707 simply limits the state from discriminating, especially before the dispute is resolved in a court of law.

The ACLU of Louisiana’s mission claims: “The goal of the ACLU’s work on freedom of religion and belief is to guarantee that all are free to follow and practice their faith — or no faith at all — without governmental influence or interference.”

Esman should stand by that guarantee. If she will not, then she should add the disclaimer we have all come to expect: “Orthodox Christians need not apply.”

Meanwhile, Louisiana lawmakers, dealing with a difficult annual budget shortfall, should recognize that the United States Supreme Court decision in June may impose a “same-sex marriage” redefinition on all 50 states.

That fact makes HB 707 a timely and extremely important legislative instrument to Louisiana voters and warrants a fair hearing, an honest debate, and an up or down vote!

Gene Mills

executive director, Louisiana Family Forum

Baton Rouge