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Tuesday, 26 April 2016 12:58
Controversial Religious Freedom Act moves through Louisiana House
 
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by Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net   

The so-called “religious freedom” bill being  pushed by Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City has passed the House of Representatives.
    Considering the controversy surrounding the bill and similar other legislation that has created a firestorm of opposition in other states, the vote in the Louisiana House was rather surprising.

   But the bill was substantially amended before the final vote was held.  Vague language related to “religious organizations” was replaced with a more specific definition of the clergy and churches the bill applies to, including removing private for-profit businesses from the bill.
    The vote was 80 for, 18 against, and 6 not voting. Most area legislators apparently did not have a problem with the legislation after it was amended.
    Voting for it were Reps. Larry Bagley (R), Thomas Carmody (R), Dodie Horton (R), Mike Johnson (R),  Jim Morris (R), Gene Reynolds (D), and Alan Seabaugh (R).  Voting against were Reps. Cedric Glover (D) and Sam Jenkins (D).  Barbara Norton (D) was absent.
    Matthew Patterson, managing director of Equality Louisiana, pointed out, however, that the debate on the House floor made it clear that the primary goal of the bill is to express animus towards same-sex couples.
    “We must remember that the mere fact that we would debate this bill  hurts  Louisiana,” Patterson  said  in a news release. He added, “We lose business investments and tourism every time we decide to discuss whether we should enable discrimination against any group of people.”
    He noted that his organization and other anti-discrimination groups will continue to monitor the legislation as it is considered by the Senate and will continue to work to oppose and defeat it.

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