BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday that businesses opposed to religious objections laws are entering an “unholy alliance” with the same liberal elites who support more taxes, regulation and “demonize” profit-making.
In a meeting with reporters, the Republican governor said he was alarmed when business groups united with LGBT advocates to oppose such laws in Indiana and Arkansas, prompting lawmakers to make changes.
Jindal, whose building a possible presidential campaign on an appeal to social conservatives, is backing a religious objection bill in Louisiana. Critics of those laws say they could allow discrimination of same-sex couples, and businesses have expressed concerns about the Louisiana bill, which is a cornerstone of the governor’s legislative agenda.
In a Thursday opinion piece published in The New York Times, Jindal called out business leaders for betraying what have historically been their conservative allies.
“You had what I’d term an unholy alliance between big business and radical left groups trying to infringe on religious liberty rights,” Jindal said of opponents of the Indiana bill. “I felt strongly enough about it, I wrote an op-ed, warning these corporate boardrooms that this is a temporary alliance that is not going to benefit them.”
Jindal said the “national radical liberal groups” that fought Indiana’s bill “are the same groups that demonize industries, are for more taxes, are for more regulations, that don’t believe businesses should be making profits.”
He suggested business leaders should remember who their friends are: “Those who believe in religious liberty also believe in economic liberty.”
The number two ranking member of the Louisiana House suggested Jindal was spreading a “message of divisiveness.”
“It is truly a sad day for Louisiana, when one must look to New York to hear from the Governor of Louisiana. Hopefully the legislature will address the truly urgent issues and work to improve and strengthen our communities and economy in a display of fairness, equity, and opportunity for all Louisianians,” Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, an opponent of the religious objections bill, said in a statement.
Gay marriage is banned under Louisiana’s constitution, though the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to soon issue a ruling that could strike down such bans nationwide.
As written, the “Marriage and Conscience Act,” sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson, a Bossier City Republican, would prohibit the state from denying any resident or business a license, benefits or tax deductions because of actions taken “in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction” about marriage.
Computer giant IBM — which has plans for an 800-worker facility in Baton Rouge — sent Jindal’s office a letter last week opposing the bill as discriminatory, and the governor said other corporations also have asked him to oppose it.
What the bill would actually do has been the subject of heated debate.
Opponents say it would sanction discrimination against same-sex couples, while proponents say it would do no such thing. Some legal experts have said if a proposed anti-discrimination provision is added, the amended bill might not accomplish anything.