BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - State Representative Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, announced his intention Tuesday to delete a paragraph in House Bill 707 that has been cited by some as a source of concern.
The bill, referred to as the "Marriage and Conscience Act," was filed Friday and has generated a great amount of attention and discussion. If passed, the new law would prevent adverse treatment by the state of any person or entity on the basis of views they may hold with regard to the institution of marriage.
The paragraph in question, proposed R.S. 13:5245(B)(4), refers to federal qualifications for employee benefit plans, and was originally included in the bill merely as an acknowledgment and restatement of existing law. But Johnson says that provision has unexpectedly caused more confusion than clarity.
Under the Act, the State would be specifically prohibited from denying or withholding from a person or entity such things that they would otherwise be entitled to—like a state license, certification, accreditation, employment, state contracts, state benefits, or tax deductions—solely because of that person or entity's views about the institution of marriage.
The legislation prohibits discrimination by the state government against any person on the basis of their sincerely held beliefs about the institution of marriage, whatever those beliefs may be.
Monday, Governor Bobby Jindal announced his full support of HB 707, which a spokesman described as a "common sense bill that provides necessary protections for individuals to prevent adverse treatment from the state based on religious beliefs regarding marriage." Johnson says other legislators have already expressed an interest in serving as co-authors of HB 707, and will be added to the bill when the session begins.