On Thursday, April 16, 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 and cited by Ms. Esman contain claims which bear no resemblance to the actual language 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.
Here are three examples why HB 707 is necessary:
- In February 2015, 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. (USA Today, 2/3/15)
- In August 2014, a New York couple was fined $13,000 by the State of New York for refusing to host a same-sex marriage ceremony on their farm. The couple offered to hold the reception at their farm, just not the ceremony. The couple employs gay staffers, and they have hosted events for same-sex couples in the past, but a gay wedding ceremony in their home would have violated their deeply held religious convictions of “non-participation”. (New York Post, 11/10/14)
- In Washington State, a 70-year-old grandmother, florist Barronelle Stutzman, has been sued and fined for refusing to provide flowers for a gay wedding. The florist says she often sells flowers to gay couples, but when one man sought to buy wedding flowers for his gay “marriage” ceremony, she drew a line based on her conscientious belief that to do so would involve her participation in the ceremony. (Associated Press, 4/11/15)
HB 707 simply prevents state action like these from occurring in Louisiana. HB707 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 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. The ACLU promotes religious freedom and works to ensure that government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. At the same time, we act to protect the equally important and related constitutional right to exercise and express religious beliefs and individual conscience.”
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!