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ACLU, others sue Jindal over marriage executive order

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BATON ROUGE - The ACLU and several others filed a joint lawsuit Tuesday to challenge Governor Bobby Jindal's executive order creating protections for people who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

New Orleans law firm Herman and Katz filed the suit on behalf of the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, Forum for Equality Foundation, and six individuals. The challenge says Jindal's "Marriage and Conscience Order" violates his constitutional authority as governor.

The governor signed the order near the end of the legislative session, shortly after a House committee defeated a similar piece of legislation which critics said amounted to state-sponsored discrimination against same-sex couples. Jindal's order directs the state not to take any actions against people acting on "sincerely held beliefs" that marriage should be defined as between one man and a woman, such as denying state grants and contracts or revoking the tax exemption status of a group.

The ACLU argued Jindal's order counts as creating a "substantive right" in favor of people who oppose same-sex marriage, which they say the Louisiana Constitution forbids the governor from doing.

"Governor Jindal has violated the Louisiana Constitution by setting up special protections for those who share his belief system. In our country no one is above the law, including the Governor. He swore to uphold the laws of Louisiana. This lawsuit seeks to hold him to that oath," said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman.

Jindal argued the order was necessary to protect Louisiana residents against a Supreme Court decision striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. That decision came this past Friday, when the court ruled 5-4 that all 50 states could not deny such unions and had to recognize those performed in other states.

The governor accused the ACLU of "picking and choosing" which civil liberties they defended.

"Religious liberty is fundamental to our freedom as Americans and I will not back down from defending it," Jindal said.


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