Editor’s Note: University of Baltimore Law Professor Garrett Epps Strikes Out Again
Governor Jindal’s attempt to protect individual rights from government intrusion has received the now all-too-familiar slander and cranky response from those who don’t like anything that stops marriage from steamrolling all individual liberties in its path. After the legislature refused to act on the Marriage and Conscience Act — not because of legitimate policy reasons, but simply because of “perceptions” about the bill — Governor Jindal took the step that is within his power, issuing an Executive Order to protect the rights of those who dissent from the State’s view of marriage vis a vis executive branch authority.
That’s too much for some, like Garrett Epps writing at The Atlantic. Epps probably knows he has no legitimate reason to oppose protection for such dissenters, so he resorts to the typical public characterizations of any individual rights protections in the face of the same-sex marriage onslaught — slander, distortion, and misrepresentation. You have to wonder whether Epps would consider Jindal an “amateurish salesmen” had his Executive Order rammed a Left-wing cause through the legislature without even considering any reasonable religious exemption, as President Obama’s Executive Order 13672 did last year.
But Epps can’t contain himself, and must try to denigrate Governor Jindal as a “kid” in order to distract from the laudable substance of what his Executive Order actually does. When one can’t address the arguments, slander the person! Clarity on religious freedom laws isn’t Epps’s strong suit. He compares Louisiana’s Marriage and Conscience Act to the Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Acts, the latter which he characterizes the same way.
First, Louisiana’s law would have protected vulnerable religious nonprofits and charities from having their tax-exempt status revoked because of their beliefs. The Indiana and Arkansas RFRAs would apply to religious beliefs more broadly. Finally, Arkansas retained stronger RFRA language like the federal RFRA which has existed since 1993 (without the horrible effects Epps cries about), while Indiana gutted its law to make it not even apply to certain situations involving same-sex marriage.
Apparently Epps believes it’s a “homophobic state policy” perpetuated by “wretched jack[s]” to not penalize private nonprofits because they believe in traditional marriage. According to Epps and people who think like him, such Bible-believing Christians are literally afraid of people with same-sex attraction. Not only does he distort the policy behind the Executive Order, but also he doesn’t even understand Bible-believing Christians.
All the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act would have done is protect those that believe in natural marriage from being penalized by the state government. Stymied by a scared legislature, Jindal acted to do what he could within the limits of executive authority — the same authority exercised, and it could be said, abused in brazen manner — by President Obama in a number of areas. He should be commended for doing what he can to protect religious believers, schools, nonprofits and others who do great work for their communities but could be forced out of existence if their tax-exempt status is revoked.
Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.