BATON ROUGE, La.—The ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, Forum for Equality Foundation, and 6 individual plaintiffs today filed suit challenging Governor Bobby Jindal’s “Marriage and Conscience Order,” signed on May 19, because it goes beyond his constitutional authority as governor. The lawsuit asserts that the “Marriage and Conscience Order” creates a class of persons who are protected over others due to their belief that same-sex couples should be denied marriage equality.
Prominent New Orleans law firm Herman, Herman & Katz has joined in filing suit. The “Marriage and Conscience Order” sends the message that same-sex couples, their families and friends, and supportive employers should avoid living, working or visiting Louisiana, according to Herman, Herman & Katz partner Steve Herman.
Under the Louisiana Constitution, the governor is not authorized to create a substantive right by executive order. The “Marriage and Conscience Order” creates substantive rights in favor of those who oppose marriage equality, and therefore is invalid. ACLU of Louisiana’s Executive Director Marjorie Esman said, “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.” The plaintiffs in this lawsuit all believe differently from Governor Jindal on the issue of marriage equality, and need protection for their beliefs just as those whom he favors are now privileged by the order’s special protection.
Additionally, according to Esman, it has not gone unnoticed that Governor Jindal not only issued his “Marriage and Conscience Order” just hours after the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted to not advance an identical bill, but also one day after announcing an exploratory committee to prepare for a presidential run.
Both Esman and Herman agree that this executive order demonstrates a reckless disregard for both the law and interests of the people and businesses of Louisiana by interfering with the legislature’s powers and duties without authority, and contrary to the Louisiana Constitution.
A copy of the complaint may be found here: http://laaclu.org/resources/2015/jindal/063015ACLUvJindal-Complaint.pdf