The House Civil Law Committee Just Voted 7-3 To Move The Pastor Protection Act To The Floor…

…which means we’re going to likely have the usual explosion of stupid alarmism coming out of the gay mafia and the rest of the social justice warrior crowd over the bill.

In case you’re not familiar with this legislation, here’s what it does, in pertinent part…

§5244. Rights of certain religious organizations

A religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, an individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment, or a clergy or minister may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.

And it includes a protection against governmental attacks on the organizations in question…

§5245. Discrimination against religious organization prohibited

A refusal to provide services, accommodations,facilities, goods, or privileges under this Part shall not serve as the basis for a civil or criminal cause of action or any other action by this state or a political subdivision of this state to penalize or withhold benefits or privileges, including tax exemptions or governmental contracts, grants, or licenses, from any protected organization or individual.

So churches and pastors don’t have to officiate or host a gay wedding, as the Bible doesn’t offer much in the way of sanction for same-sex marriage, and if they say they’re not going to perform them the bill bars local governments or state agencies from persecuting them.

Even the bill’s opponents, when asked during the committee’s hearings, agreed that the clergy shouldn’t be forced to officiate a gay wedding if they don’t want to or think it would be a sin. The objection was that the bill would “open the door” to interpretations which are overly broad.

One of them, Dylan Waguespack of Equality Louisiana, brought up Hobby Lobby as an example of a religious organization since it’s a closely-held private company whose owners are religious and run the company accordingly, and suggested that Hobby Lobby and companies like it would be covered under this bill. That didn’t particularly impress Rep. Alan Seabaugh, who wondered aloud who’s getting married at Hobby Lobby and asked if he’d even read the bill before he showed up to testify against it.

But the main theme the opponents brought up about the bill was the usual round of threats – namely, that were it to pass it would subject Louisiana to the kinds of negative economic impacts seen in North Carolina and Mississippi with the passage of much broader religious liberty bills. Asked whether Texas’ virtually identical bill has engendered those boycotts and other acts of retaliation by corporate America, they had no response.

One wonders why Equality Louisiana and the rest of the gay agenda crowd bothered to oppose the bill. Frankly, it’s a good argument to say the Pastor Protection Act doesn’t actually do anything, since it’s widely accepted that what it protects, the First Amendment and the Louisiana Constitution also protect. If everyone agrees with that, then everyone should also agree that government entities in Louisiana shouldn’t be able to attack those religious officials who exercise their right to refuse to participate in a gay wedding – which is little more than a spelling-out of what that protection means in statute.

Rep. Mike Johnson, the author of the bill, noted in testimony that the rapid movement of the courts on the issue of gay marriage throws all the currently accepted law on this subject in question and creates a need for the legislature to delineate in statute how people affected by gay marriage can treat it.

The only three votes against the bill were the three Democrats on the committee – Reps. Sam Jenkins, Robby Carter and Randall Gaines. One of the Republicans, Rep Tanner Magee, bellyached about it quite a bit during the hearing and then gave a long explanation off-mic during the voting as something of a qualifier for a “yes” vote.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he supports the bill, though it’s entirely likely Edwards will weasel out of that support – especially once the Left’s publicity engine cranks up about it, if it does.

The bill has a decent chance of passage on the House floor regardless of what negative publicity comes from it. Once it gets to the Senate, all bets are off.

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