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Landrieu says New Orleans will not tolerate intolerance

26th May 2015   ·   0 Comments

It has been often said that even though New Orleans is geographically located in the Deep South, it is not of the South. Similar arguments have said that while the Crescent City continues to be the goose that lays the proverbial golden egg for Louisiana, its politics and priorities do not reflect those of the conservative Red state.

Case in point: The ongoing efforts of La. Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to set the political and moral tone for the state and city.

Last week, Jindal’s executive order vilifying same-sex marriage and creating an environment in which same-sex couples to be openly discriminated against touched off a hailstorm of criticism from other states including New York.

Responding to Jindal’s move on Thursday Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued an executive order aimed at clarifying to the nation that New Orleans is a welcoming city where discrimination in any form is not tolerated. The order comes on the heels of Governor Bobby Jindal signing an executive order this week that includes much of the same language as legislation that a House committee recently rejected by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

“With this executive order, I am issuing a clarifying call to the nation that New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity and welcomes people from all walks of life with open arms,” said Mayor Landrieu. “In New Orleans, we believe religious liberty and freedoms should be protected and discrimination prohibited, and we have passed our own laws to reflect that principle. This executive order is an important, symbolic affirmation that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated in New Orleans – and it should not be tolerated anywhere in Louisiana.”

Landrieu’s executive order is designed to address backlash to the Governor’s order, which has led some states to consider banning non-essential travel to Louisiana and could adversely affect the state’s and city’s ability to attract jobs, large conventions and major special events, such as the Super Bowl.

The executive order recognizes that Louisiana has already passed the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act in 2010, which prohibits government intrusion into a person’s exercise of religion, and that current code in New Orleans prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. The order calls on all City departments, commissions, boards, and agencies to take cognizance and comply with all anti-discrimination laws of the City of New Orleans.

The mayor’s executive order says in part that “[t]o the extent permitted by law, contracts entered into by the City of New Orleans contain a requirement that City contractors, consultants or partners will not, in the performance of the contract, discriminate or retaliate, in fact or in perception, on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, culture, ancestral history, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or domestic partner status, physical or mental disability, or AIDS- or HIV-status;

“On its face, Gov. Jindal’s executive order is overreaching and more than likely unenforceable,” Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, the second-highest ranking House member, told The Associated Press. “It is deeply disappointing that he has taken this extreme action.”

Stephen Perry, a vocal critic of the defeated bill, heads up the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. He dismissed Jindal’s order as having “very little practical impact.”

“Any belief that the executive order could enact law similar to that proposed by Rep. Johnson is simply unfounded and would not survive a court test,” said Perry, who was chief of staff to former Gov. Mike Foster, Jindal’s former boss.

In a written statement, Jindal spokesman Mike Reed said the order prevents state agencies from penalizing people for a “religious belief in traditional marriage.”

“Let me make this clear,” Reed said. “Our executive order does not create new law. It protects religious liberty as provided in our Constitution.”

“He got what he wants, which is more visibility, getting talked about in the national media,” Robert Hogan, an LSU political science professor, told The Associated Press. “And he can point to this, saying he’s fighting the good fight for the religious community.”

This article originally published in the May 25, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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