State says accommodations needed for religious objectors
BATON ROUGE - The top lawyer for Governor Bobby Jindal's administration said Monday that protections are still in place for any in Louisiana who have religious objections to same-sex marriage.
The Jindal administration sent out executive counsel Thomas Enright's memo after multiple clerks of court began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in south Louisiana.
Enright said while the Supreme Court's ruling this past Friday does not permit states to bar same-sex couples from getting married, it will not force people with "sincerely held religious beliefs" to perform or facilitate same-sex marriages.
Enright said that means a state employee who objects on religious grounds to issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples is protected from being forced to do so. Judges or justices of the peace who objected to such unions for religious purposes would also not be forced to preside over such ceremonies.
Enright advised state offices to make sure accommodations are in place so that another employee without a religious objection can handle such a request, when it comes up.
"In Louisiana, we celebrate diversity of belief and the religious liberties that are fundamental to our society," Enright's memo said. "We do not support discrimination and believe that these two foundational values can simultaneously co-exist. "
Jindal, who is running for president, objected to the high court's ruling but said this weekend Louisiana had no choice but to follow the law.
Enright said the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was hearing a challenge to Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban, has not handed down an opinion in that case yet and requested both sides in the case submit advisory letters before July 1.