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Jindal issues executive order after marriage act killed in House

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BATON ROUGE - After a House committee effectively killed a contentious religious objection bill, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order to achieve the bill's goals.

The House Civil Law and Procedure committee voted 10-2 to return HB 707 from Rep. Mike Johnson, a Bossier City Republican, to the calendar. The vote effectively killed the bill for this session.

Jindal, who is exploring a presidential campaign and is term-limited as governor, said the bill was one of his legislative priorities and he was "disappointed" in the committee's decision.

"This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman," the governor said.

Governor Jindal's office scheduled a press conference over the matter for 5 p.m., and released the text of his executive order just before that.

People on both sides of the debate packed the House committee room where the bill was debated for more than three hours Tuesday. Rep. Johnson admitted during questioning the bill would allow doctors to refuse to treat gay patients without fear of the state pulling their license to practice medicine, and teachers from meeting with gay parents of students without losing their state certification.

Johnson argued there were federal and local laws or ordinances which would handle those scenarios, but committee member Rep. John Bel Edwards expressed concerns the bill went too far over overriding those protections.

Religious freedom protections were also recently passed in Indiana and Arkansas which prompted large enough outcries that lawmakers changed them to clarify they would not allow discrimination of people based on sexuality, and match the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Louisiana already has an RFRA law on the books, and Johnson's bill would have added to those protections.

IBM, which is building a large programming campus in downtown Baton Rouge, came out against the measure when it was announced because they said it clashed with their company's values. The Louisiana Family Forum said they supported the bill Tuesday because it would protect against the Supreme Court overriding the will of the people if it chose to strike down same-sex marriage bans.

News 2's Mark Armstrong will have more reaction to the decision tonight on WBRZ.

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