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by Eric Bradner
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued new protections for businesses that refuse to serve same-sex marriages, embracing the “religious freedom” cause dear to conservative Christians even though it’s stung other Republican politicians.
Jindal, a prospect for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, issued an executive order on Tuesday after saying he was disappointed that a Statehouse committee had earlier in the day voted down a bill that would have accomplished the same goal.
That panel’s concern: that Louisiana would look much like Indiana, where concerns that a new “religious freedom” law would lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians triggered such a massive business backlash that it effectively ended the presidential prospects of another dark horse 2016 contender, GOP Gov. Mike Pence.
“We don’t support discrimination in Louisiana and we do support religious liberty,” Jindal said in a statement. “These two values can be upheld at the same time.”
“Indeed, we celebrate diversity of belief in Louisiana. Diversity of belief and religious liberty are the foundation of our law and Constitution and they should be protected,” he said. “As long as I’m governor, we will fight to protect religious liberty and not apologize for it.”
Jindal has for months seen political opportunity in an issue that proved challenging for both Pence and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a newly elected Republican who had expressed support for a similar religious freedom measure in his state but sought changes to it after watching the controversy in Indiana unfold.
New Orleans business and tourism industry leaders had expressed many of the same concerns that companies like Apple, Walmart, Salesforce, Angie’s List and Yelp had about the Indiana and Arkansas measures, saying it could alienate some visitors and cost convention business.