How Standing Firm On Mike Johnson’s Religious Freedom Bill Could Help Bobby Jindal

… least that’s what the Washington Post believes. They had an article yesterday that described that how Governor Jindal could use State Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-Bossier City) “Marriage And Conscience Act” to supercharge his likely presidential bid.

Here’s the scenario the Washington Post describes:

Following on the heels of contentious religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas, Jindal said he plans to support his state’s own bill. Judging from how Indiana’s bill catapulted Gov. Mike Pence (R) to the national spotlight, Jindal could soon see the same thing happen for him — and not necessarily in a good way. But Louisiana’s debate could be different in one significant way.

Whereas Indiana and Arkansas had versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which included broad language that critics have said could have unintended consequences, Louisiana’s Marriage and Conscience Act is more focused and deals specifically with religious beliefs in relation to same-sex marriage.

Polling suggests that could — emphasis on could — be more popular and more difficult for opponents to beat back. Critics can’t as easily point to the possibility of the vague language leading to unintended discrimination, and polling shows half or more of voters support exempting religious businesses from serving gay weddings. A March 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll found only 28 percent believe businesses should be able to refuse service to gay and lesbian people in general because of religious belief, but a January AP-GfK poll found 57 percent believe that wedding-related businesses should be able to refuse service. (A later Pew poll put it at 47 percent.)

Strip away all the rhetoric on this bill and it’s a very simple argument. Fascists like Equality Louisiana are telling florists in Mamou, caterers in Ruston, and wedding photographers in Jena they have to service gay weddings whether or not they violate their conscience. There are plenty of wedding service providers that would be more than happy to take the money of gay couples, even in the most conservative parts of the state.

We’re not talking about big corporations here, we’re talking about in most cases mom and pop businesses and sole proprietors. Their businesses are extensions of themselves.

Who are the opponents of this bill? Groups like Equality Louisiana/Louisiana Progress, New Orleans liberals, and the national media. Collectively, these people have little influence in the legislature and this bill should pass easily. Bobby Jindal would be a fool to stand in this bill’s way.

Social conservatism is the only appeal Bobby Jindal has. He talks tough on national security, but he doesn’t really have the background to back it up. He certainly can’t run as a fiscal conservative considering the financial mess he has left the state in.

That’s Jindal’s niche in this race, the consistent pro-life, pro-family, pro-religious liberty guy. Unlike Santorum, Jindal has executive experience and unlike Huckabee, he’s more relevant. He almost certainly will use this bill to further his presidential ambitions.

That also maybe the one thing that can kill the bill. Many members of the legislature, in both parties, would love to do nothing more than embarrass Bobby this session. This bill might give them that opportunity.

Barring any pettiness on the legislature’s behalf, Johnson’s bill should pass and Jindal will have a success to tout in Iowa. Whether it’s enough for Jindal to carve out enough of a niche to be a contender remains to be seen.



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