Marriage and Conscience Act of Louisiana: Bobby’s Buffoonery

The impact and legacy of Bobby Jindal on the state of Louisiana can best be compared to that of the boll weevil following that little devil’s arrival to the South in 1893.

I’m hearing arguments about religious liberty, personal liberty, and how that is being taken away.  If you study US History, there are a number of examples where religious and personal liberty has been stripped. To deny that contention is an exercise in futility because retorts are not limited to era or region.

Today, however, I think confusion exists between what is liberty and what is power. What is often term as a suppression of liberty is in fact a simple equalization in power.  What one has been able to dictate as an absolute is now another option among others.

I’m not engaging in some Bible verse tossing battle from either Old Testament or New Testament. I’m not asking anyone to cite the number of times the term Christian or Christianity appears in the Constitution. With the Bible, we’ll just need to agree to disagree. With the Constitution and the concepts of intent within the document, historically I’ll state that you will need to find resources that have yet to be found for the Christian nation thesis. Sadly I think that all energy would be expended just developing a common outline for what different Christians agree or disagree.

Seriously as a Christian who or what do we pledge allegiance?  Some readers here may recall when they relearned lines composed by Francis Bellamy to include an additional phrase for Flag Day 1944, so obviously neither that pledge nor “under God” is of Constitutional era writing.

  • Is marriage something civil?
  • Is it religious?
  • Is it spiritual?
  • Is it all of the preceding and then some?
  • Is it none of the preceding but something else?

I can tell you that I applied for a license for which I paid a monetary fee. I had to swear or affirm and signify by signing my name.  I said “I Will” when asked by an ordained Methodist minister inside a church building. That ordained Methodist minister was not the pastor of a congregation that either my wife or I attended for any worship or other purposes. He was a mentor, friend, and colleague who taught psychology first as an adjunct and then on a full time renewable contract at the same college where my wife and I taught at that time.

My Dad did not express reservations about my not getting married in a Roman Catholic Church. My in-laws did not seem alarmed for their daughter not being married in a Lutheran ceremony. All may have been happy if we had just gone to the county courthouse or back home to the barbershop. If that surprises you, Mr. Max, the Justice of the Peace, built an addition onto his barbershop after he first got elected JP years ago.

  • Argue traditional, and then just consider the role that the wife played in the marriage for much of our country’s history. If a man and a woman is traditional then it is also traditional that the woman does not hold a job outside the household and certainly doesn’t earn more money than the husband.
  • Argue Biblical and again it’s pick and choose because more than likely you aren’t following all.  It might be the work aspect.  It might be divorce.
  • Argue religious, and why is marriage by a judge, clerk, Justice of the Peace, or a ship captain valid?  Why are we charged a fee and obtain a license?  Why do we have a married filing jointly status?  Why are there these next of kin provisions, executor, beneficiary, and all that?

Personally I could not marry another man, but I’m not homosexual. If I had married a girl I had dated while in graduate school that would have been the dumbest mistake I ever made, and honestly I would have to be divorced today or else I’d either be dead or insane.

If a man marries another man, it does not take away any of the advantages I have in being married to the person I love. The same is true of a woman marrying another woman. It’s also true of someone who meets someone and they on over to some courthouse, JP, or wedding chapel, fill out their paperwork, adhere to any timeline requirements, pay their fees, and say whatever they want as part of their ceremony.  Annulments, divorces, remarrying, and all by others do not erode my religious, personal, or any liberty of mine for that matter.

Please read HB 707, the Marriage and Conscience Act of Louisiana.

The Committee on Civil Law and Procedure voted 10 to 2 to return the bill to the calendar. Under the Louisiana constitution that vote effectively kills the bill for the remainder of the legislative session.

Governor Bobby Jindal, however, stated:

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” said Jindal in a statement.  “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The language is not déjà vu.  It’s black and white. It’s no different than many of arguments to implement and justify segregation and discrimination on the basis of race. We’ve seen the same to justify unequal treatment based on gender or age.

Tell me, however, what guarantee do you or I have that someone has a deeply held religious belief that a marriage between a man and woman not officiated by a religious official, or someone from a specific denomination for that matter, is in fact an invalid marriage? What is one partner has been divorced for reasons other than what is specifically written in the Bible?

Oh, that’s nonsense you say?  History tells me different, and it isn’t ancient history or that from another land. It happened right here in the United States of America under the Constitution of the United States of America.

I’m reminded so much of what is called the Mississippi Plan and the disenfranchisement state constitutions of the late 19th century and early 20th.

These constitutions legalized voting requirements such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and enacted ‘grandfather clauses.’  Some of it had to do with discrimination, but history is not that simple. You see that was a period when we had a Solid South. A single political party (although each state did develop opposing factions within for a de facto 2 party system), the Democratic Party, was in control. Again, that fact is not so simple. If you choose to argue with that race card then you must also support federal occupation and control over a state government. That federal government usurping all state rights in spite of what the tailing portion of the Bill of Rights contains was the GOP government which had been run out of the Southern states by the inaccurately labeled Redeemers, Bourbons, et al.

The primary reason why a simple race card gets trumped here involves a political movement started by some farmers in the Midwest that evolved into what we refer to as the Populists.  The Populists championed the causes of the ‘average’ American (Please refer to their Presidential platform of 1892 for examples of Populist planks).  What if that poor white and poor black working in the South saw more commonality in their lives and less about the differences in skin color?  The Democratic Party would have lost power.

Today, what if other groups who have been denied rights afforded to other receive the same rights? What if homosexuals are allowed to marry?  What if one cannot discriminate as has been the practice?

They have been forced to accept our standards, so yes their liberty has been threatened. We are merely asked to recognize them in the same manner as we recognize ourselves.

Our liberty is not threatened.

Only our ability to impose our beliefs upon others has changed.

We no longer have been given power.

The power is there for anyone who earns it.

Are we so weak and incompetent that we must have the field tilted in our favor? 

To also place things into perspective, this Executive Order will not survive legal challenges, yet it is more pressing to Bobby Jindal than the budget disaster and all the other chaos back home?  Presidential fantasy or not, this is ridiculous even by Louisiana political standards.  Congressman Morrison (RIP) how many floats would you have for Bobby Jindal if a modern version of your convict parade rolled the streets?

One of the better earlier retorts to this bill can be read in this Bob Mann column from 3 April 2015

Professor Mann also wrote a series of follow ups both on his personal blog and for the Picayune.  I’m linking a few for your convenience, but please search his blog for more along with pieces written in Louisiana Voice with more to come I guarantee in my best Justin Wilson voice.


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