Anybody who’s read the Hayride as this year’s legislative session has gone along knows we were supporters of Rep. Mike Johnson’s HB 707, the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act. Despite most of what you might have heard, what the bill essentially does is to keep the state from destroying the business of Christians involved in the wedding industry who’d like to specialize in “straight” weddings through things like licensing or tax treatment.
The ridiculous drama-queen histrionics of the Gay Mafia, and the cacophony of threats made against Louisiana politicians should the bill have passed, doubtless had an effect on legislators – though it seems fairly clear based on polling the effect on the public was far less pronounced. There was little movement in the House to advance Johnson’s bill, and it was no surprise when it was unceremoniously killed in the House Civil Law & Procedure Committee after a three-and-a-half hour circus, the majority of which was taken up by the usual parade of (1) corporate lackeys scolding the politicians about the economic costs of defying the Gay Mafia and (2) cultural Marxists from various non-profits engaging in the usual Two Minute Hate rants.
It’s a theory of mine that the Gay Mafia has settled on hysterical screaming as advocacy in legislative hearings and similar fora as a means of dissuading social conservatives from engaging in attempts to legislate issues like this – the more unpleasant and unhinged they can become, the better the likelihood that they can scare off the nice guys on the Right who just want peace and quiet. It’s a tactic not far removed from the ubiquitous accusations of racism thrown at anyone not fully on board with redistributionist economics or an overweening welfare state; the objective of both is to clear the field of political opponents and shut down debate, and both tactics are effective because the average Republican has better things to do than engage in mudwrestling with socialists.
Some of that undoubtedly played a part in the four Republicans on the House Civil Law Committee caving to the Democrats in giving that committee’s chairman Neil Abramson a 10-2 vote to return the bill to the calendar. Nancy Landry, Mike Huval, Clay Schexnayder and Greg Miller haven’t developed reputations for gay activism, at least not yet, and given that none of them had anything to say about the bill in the committee hearing before meekly voting with Abramson on his motion to kill the bill it’s reasonable to conclude their actions yesterday were driven by pusillanimity rather than philosophy.
Johnson wasn’t even given the courtesy of having a vote on his amendments to the bill in order to put it in proper posture for an up-or-down vote before Abramson trashed HB 707. Even given Johnson’s status as a freshman legislator that was an incredibly obnoxious move by Abramson and one which calls into severe question why a supposedly Republican-dominated House of Representatives with a Republican Speaker has such a tyrannical left-wing Democrat running an important committee like Civil Law. Time and time again we have seen Republican bills supported by a Republican governor trashed in committees run by Democrats in the House, and it’s really getting tiresome. We’ll call that another indictment of the crappy quality of the leadership in that body and poor performance of Chuck Kleckley in his job; if Louisiana has had a more ineffective and feckless Speaker we don’t know who it could have been.
And the treatment of Johnson by the Democrats and their four Republican stooges on that committee would be THE story today, except that not two hours after the vote to table Gov. Bobby Jindal rushed to the microphones to deliver Johnson’s bill into law through executive order.
As a matter of policy, it’s defensible for Jindal to have done so. If the Supreme Court does set Louisiana’s gay marriage ban alight in a ruling expected next month, there will be several holes in state law with respect not only to the practice of homosexual marriage (for example, the age of consent in Louisiana is 16; will that apply to gay marriages?) but also to the subject matter of Johnson’s bill. You can bet the Gay Mafia will attack not only bakers and photographers who want to participate only in straight weddings, but churches as well, and it is perfectly valid to set some state policy on the issue. It would likely be more appropriate as a matter of policy to wait until the issue is ripe, however; until and unless the Court makes its expected ruling gay marriage is not legal in Louisiana.
But politically, the executive order sucks.
For one thing, Jindal supported Johnson’s bill. He spoke in favor of it in his State of the State speech at the beginning of the session. He considered it a priority. And yet Jindal did nothing to move the bill. He offered no advocacy as the session went along, he didn’t send anybody to testify on behalf of the bill in committee, much less do it himself, he didn’t lobby any of the squishes on the committee that we can see.
He sat on the sidelines until Abramson killed the bill, and then he did a Barack Obama impersonation by – it is being perceived – doing an end run around the legislature to make law.
That’s inaccurate, of course, since Johnson’s bill never got a vote on the House floor or even an up-or-down vote in committee on the bill as amended you can’t say there wasn’t a House or Senate majority in favor of it. But it doesn’t matter. Having the governor step in and do a deus ex machina routine to enact the bill makes it look like Jindal and the religious Right in Louisiana are some sort of unaccountable cabal out of touch with the public.
We know that’s not true, of course, because the bill polls extremely well with the public. The histrionics of the Gay Mafia notwithstanding, most people in Louisiana understand that it’s obnoxious to force religious Christian business owners to participate in something they believe is a sin. But it’s just as obnoxious to do the deus ex machina routine on the same day Abramson pulled his little power play.
Jindal should have let Abramson’s actions percolate and simmer. He should have offered up a withering stream of criticism leveled against Abramson, and he should have painted the Louisiana Democrat Party Abramson represents as the stooges of the Gay Mafia shutting down free speech on the way toward violating the freedom of religion and association in Louisiana. And if the Supreme Court were to eliminate Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage, that the voters put in place by no less than a 78-22 count, then Jindal could have issued the executive order – but only after putting the other side on the defensive for their own sketchy actions.
A story like this needs a villain. Abramson and the Gay Mafia were doing a good job of assuming that role. By the end of the day they were off the hook.
Issuing the executive order within an hour and a half of the committee’s vote makes all this not about the bill or the policy, or even the politics of the issue, but about Jindal. It makes him Mr. Social Conservative for the voters in Iowa while Louisianans get to serve as mere pawns and observers. Back in Louisiana, it makes him the villain Abramson should have been.
And it makes the Louisiana Family Forum, which is routinely villified by the cultural Left in this state for all manner of horribles they don’t in fact engage in, look like they’re attempting to subvert the law and the public.
Which is why we cringed when we saw this…
Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) applauds Governor Jindal for his pledge to protect the religious liberty of those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, despite an adverse vote in the House Civil Law committee. Although the outcome of the committee vote was 10-2 unfavorable, Gov. Jindal has made it clear that he will “be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707.”
And this, from LFF’s vice president Rick Edmonds…
We are so grateful for a victory today for marriage and family. We are equally grateful for a victory for Louisiana and all of America.
We want to say thanks to you! While religious freedom in America is being attacked on every corner, believers like you in Louisiana continue to make a difference. Many of you have been praying, signing petitions, speaking to legislators, informing friends and even making your way to Baton Rouge to make a difference. Congratulations, your hard work and prayers have paid off.
Yet, there is much left to do. We look forward to continue serving together and standing for truth.
After what Abramson did, LFF had the opportunity to play the role of the aggrieved party at the hands of the dishonest and cowardly Neil Abramson and his undemocratic committee shenanigans. Instead, they look like Jindal’s lackeys and partners in subversion of the state’s constitution.
As for Jindal’s use of the controversy to curry favor with social conservatives in Iowa, this wouldn’t help to dispel that perception. Enter influential Iowa conservative talk host and blogger Steve Deace (who we like and who regularly delivers solid insights), who names Jindal his Winner of the Week…
The first of my 10 Commandments of Political Warfare is the first listed for it is the most important, yet it is rarely if ever obeyed:
“Never, ever trust Republicrats.”
A Republicrat is not to be confused with a “RINO” (Republican in Name Only). RINOs are easy to spot. They are out-and-proud liberal Republicans. They’re almost always confined to blue states, where they simply become Republicans because there’s no more roster spots remaining on Team Democrat where they live.
However, the Republicrat is a far more ominous and treacherous foe. For he and his consultants have figured out how conservatives wish to be condescended and pandered to, thus allowing him to get elected anywhere in the country — even in solidly red states like Louisiana.
Absolutely no Republican is getting elected dog-catcher in Louisiana by saying “I have no plans to honor my oath of office to defend this Constitution, but instead will allow Cultural Marxists (especially the Rainbow Jihad) to shred it if defending it requires a single ounce of courage.”
Now, almost all the Republicans in a place like Massachusetts say and believe that. But if you want to be a Republican in a place like Louisiana, you better make sure to clearly express your love for both God and country on the stump. Then, once you’re elected, you’ll conspire with your fellow Republicrats to “surrender now before it’s too late” the moment the Left mounts any resistance to a single syllable of the party platform.
This is why Republicrats are so dangerous. They get elected by us by sounding like us, and then once in office they will stab us in the back quicker than you can say “electability.”
That’s exactly what Louisiana’s Republican legislature was planning on doing this week on religious freedom. The state that is home to Duck Dynasty, perhaps America’s most beloved family of conservative Christians, was poised to genuflect and wave the white flag towards the Cultural Marxists waving the rainbow flag.
Jindal immediately stepped in and ordered that while he’s governor the state government is not going to be a tool of the Cultural Marxists’ Rainbow Jihad against religion — particularly Christianity.
Some of what Deace is saying is correct. The Gay Mafia is where it is because conservatives have inadequately pushed back against their agenda, and squish Republicans are far more an enemy than an ally when things get ugly on issues such as religious freedom.
Except he has no idea whether Jindal has actually done any heavy lifting on Johnson’s bill, and if he knew how little help Jindal gave before the bill was hammered by Abramson and his squish friends he would hardly anoint him a warrior or a winner.
This entire episode is a cascade of errors and failure. It makes the conservative movement look like fools and rubes who can’t work the political process, and it makes the side of this issue where the majority of the public rests look like a shrinking minority. You’d think a two-term governor who wants to be president could have been more useful in preventing it, rather than contributing to it.