In wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality, Republican leaders, led by GOP officials in Texas and North Carolina, have rallied behind the idea that public officials should be able to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples if they say same-sex marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has said Louisiana court clerks and other state employees who don’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of religious objections won’t have to do so.
Jindal’s office has said the governor’s religious freedom executive order as well as state and federal law will protect clerks and state employees who have moral objections to gay marriage and don’t feel comfortable handing out licenses to same-sex couples.
“We believe the U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Constitution, Louisiana’s Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, as well as our Executive Order prevents government from compelling individuals to violate sincerely held religious beliefs. We will continue to fight to protect religious liberty,” said Mike Reed, spokesman for the governor’s office.
The Louisiana governor, however, was singing a different tune back in 2009.
That year, a local justice of the peace “refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple” because he said he doesn’t “believe in mixing the races that way.” He went on to say that he denied the marriage license out of interest for the wellbeing of children, an argument similar to those marriage equality opponents make today.
Jindal said at the time that the justice of the peace violated the law and should lose his job:
The actions of a justice of the peace in Louisiana who refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple have prompted some top officials, including Gov. Bobby Jindal, to call for his dismissal.
Jindal said the state judiciary committee should review the incident in which Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s 8th Ward, refused to issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, 30, and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond.
“This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. … Disciplinary action should be taken immediately — including the revoking of his license,” the Republican governor said.
When the justice of the peace eventually resigned, Jindal said it was “long overdue.”
But now Jindal is trying to defend justices of the peace who are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing the same arguments about personal beliefs and the welfare of children and describing himself as a “religious liberty” champion in doing so.