NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In what some political analysts are calling an unprecedented move, Gov. Bobby Jindal signs an executive order that he says will protect religious liberty. The move comes after a House committee on Tuesday rejected a controversial religious freedom bill.
"Other states have moved away from this issue while he seems intent on running to this political hurricane," Xavier political analyst Silas Lee said.
Jindal signed an order that essentially will do the work the Marriage and Conscience bill intended to. It prohibits the state from penalizing businesses and business owners who refuse service to same-sex couples on moral or religious grounds.
"What we're seeing today in America is an all-out assault on religious liberty, and what is so important for folks to understand is that this is even bigger than marriage. I believe in a traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman, but this is bigger than marriage. This is a debate about our First Amendment rights," Jindal said.
The governor's order comes just hours after a House committee voted down the Marriage and Conscience bill, authored by Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City.
"I'm grateful to the governor for taking the important step, and I think it sets an example for other states on how to handle these issues," Johnson said.
Lee says previous governors have signed executive orders, but never for a topic so controversial. He says the timing is ironic, just a day after Jindal announced he set up an exploratory committee for a possible White House run.
"The Governor continues to look for more or less the cheap exploitive route to enhance his visibility," Lee commented.
Many in the tourism industry fear Jindal's order will turn away business, portraying Louisiana as a state where not everyone is welcome.
Stephen Perry, CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau, says, "What is at stake? First year losses for the economy of Louisiana - $40 million to the general fund."
Others, including religious leaders who testified before the House Committee in Baton Rouge Tuesday, disagree.
"There will still be Bayou Classic, there will still be Jazz Fest, there will still be Mardi Gras. No matter how you decide on this issue, they will still come," Lafayette Pastor Omar Thibeaux said.
Gay rights attorney Ryan Delaney thinks Jindal's order encourages discrimination against the LGBT community, saying, "He's putting the well being of the people in Louisiana at risk just for his own presidential aspirations."
Delaney says for him, despite this executive order, the fight for equality isn't over.