Gov. Bobby Jindal doubled down on his stance opposing gay marriage on Thursday, writing in an op-ed for The New York Times that the country must protect his and others’ religious liberty to do so.
Recent and controversial religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas – which say religious freedom can be used as a defense against discrimination suits, but critics say promotes discrimination – have become a rallying cry for Christian conservatives, the very voting block the Republican governor seems determined to woo ahead of a likely 2016 presidential bid.
“Why shouldn’t an individual or business have the right to cite, in a court proceeding, religious liberty as a reason for not participating in a same-sex marriage ceremony that violates a sincerely held religious belief? That is what Indiana and Arkansas sought to do,” he wrote in the op-ed. “That political leaders in both states quickly cowered amid the shrieks of big business and the radical left should alarm us all.”
Jindal is spending ample time in Iowa – the crucial early voting state for social conservatives – and hiring staff there, too, ahead of his expected June presidential announcement.
Back home in Louisiana, he’s advocating for a more restrictive bill: one that gives broad protections against state action to those who oppose gay marriage. “This Louisiana bill really does what people accused the Indiana law of doing,” leading religious freedom expert and University of Virginia law professor Doug Laycock told msnbc last week. If passed, this law would likely ensure, for example, that the state couldn’t punish a state worker who refuses to process paperwork on a name change following a gay marriage in another state, or a police officer who didn’t want to police a same-sex wedding ceremony.
“[G]iven the changing positions of politicians, judges and the public in favor of same-sex marriage, along with the potential for discrimination against Christian individuals and businesses that comes with these shifts, I plan in this legislative session to fight for passage of the Marriage and Conscience Act,” Jindal wrote in the op-ed, referring to the bill.
Jindal’s opposition to gay marriage may help him attract social conservatives, but Republicans – and particularly young Republicans – have begun softening on the issue in recent years.
In a recent Pew Research Poll, 61% of young Republicans said they support same-sex marriage. It’s this shift that Jindal’ op-ed seems angled to address.
“I hold the view that has been the consensus in our country for over two centuries: that marriage is between one man and one woman. Polls indicate that the American consensus is changing – but like many other believers, I will not change my faith-driven view on this matter, even if it becomes a minority opinion,” Jindal wrote.