It was no great surprise this week when Mayor Mitch Landrieu — chief executive of what is probably Louisiana’s most gay-friendly town — sought to undercut an executive order on “religious freedom” issued by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
But on Friday, the Jefferson Chamber — a more conservative outfit, though one that has been trying to woo young professionals — joined in the chorus of voices opposing Jindal’s order, saying it could prove bad for business if its perceived as discriminatory.
Headlined “Jefferson Chamber Takes Exception to Governor’s Executive Order,” the group’s news release says bluntly that Jindal’s order “will essentially result in a destructive financial impact for our region and state.”
Elsewhere, it notes: “We believe in a business community that supports equality, regardless of sexual orientation, race, cultural background, gender, etc.”
Jindal has sought to portray opposition to his order, and similarly intended legislation, as being the work of the “radical left wing” and “corporate America.”
In a speech Friday before the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, he said those odd bedfellows had teamed up to “bully” conservative governors pushing agendas similar to his own.
“The left teamed up with corporate America to bully leaders in Indiana and Arkansas when they debated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” he said, according to The Hill. “My warning to those corporate leaders is: If you think you are going to come to Louisiana and bully the governor of Louisiana, don’t waste your breath.”
Jindal’s order came after a House committee killed by a 10-2 vote a Jindal-supported bill that would have carved out protections for people who oppose same-sex marriage. He said the order would preserve the intent of the bill by applying its protections to executive branch employees of state government.
While the bill was popular among many conservative religious groups and voters, it drew criticism from liberals and gays as well as business leaders, who said they feared it would harm the economy.
The day after the order was signed, two New York lawmakers floated the idea of banning all nonessential, state-funded travel to Louisiana. Indiana and Arkansas were threatened similar partial boycotts after those states pursued measures similar to Louisiana’s religious freedom bill. Governors in those states eventually supported changes that mollified critics of those laws.
The dueling executive orders signed by Jindal and Landrieu have both been described as mostly symbolic by legal experts.