Reynolds gives thoughts on ‘religious freedom’ bill

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RepEugene_ReynoldsThe so-called “religious freedom” bill is causing a lot of controversy, but State Rep. Gene Reynolds says he’s not sure how the final bill will read.

“Rep. (Mike) Johnson has three or four amendments that he’s going to add to the bill, so nobody really knows what the bill’s going to say until he presents it in committee,” he said. “If it never gets out of committee, we’ll never see it. Everybody is being asked that question, and it’s hard to say if you’re for or against it until you know what it does.”

Reynolds says Johnson is working with “some people” on the amendments to garner support, but it also has its opposition.

“If we already have bills in place that does what this will supposedly do, why pass it and be redundant?” Reynolds said. “I’ve been told that we have plenty of state and federal laws on the books that do that for religious freedom. When or if it gets on the House floor, I’ll read it in detail and decide then.”

Johnson has stirred up a flurry of controversy over the bill dubbed the “Marriage and Conscience Act.” He says the bill does not focus on religion, but rather barring the state from discriminating against anyone based on their view of marriage.

Opponents of the bill say it could allow businesses to refuse service for same-sex weddings and deny benefits to employees in same-sex marriages.
“This state shall not take any adverse action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction about the institution of marriage,” the legislation reads.

It would apply to private employers as well, regardless of religious affiliation, and it could allow businesses to deny certain state benefits to members of same-sex marriages if the employer objects to the marriage, opponents say.

Johnson says it would stop the government from bullying or coercing people based on their views of marriage.

“This legislation simply 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,” Johnson wrote in a news release following the filing of the bill.

Johnson made his case to pastors and others in a news conference last week sponsored by Louisiana Progress Action.

Local pastor Samuel Mims, in a news release, says he’s against the bill.

“I know what it feels like to be discriminated against; I am against all forms of discrimination,” he said. “What really bothers me is that this bill justifies discrimination in the name of Jesus Christ. He is all about love and not about what is in this bill.”

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