- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2015

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is slamming politicians in Indiana and Arkansas for a “retreat” on so-called religious freedom legislation and says he isn’t going to be pressured by corporate America into backing off of his support for similar legislation in his home state on the issue of marriage.

“In Indiana and Arkansas, large corporations recently joined left-wing activists to bully elected officials into backing away from strong protections for religious liberty,” Mr. Jindal wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday by The New York Times. “It was disappointing to see conservative leaders so hastily retreat on legislation that would simply allow for an individual or business to claim a right to free exercise of religion in a court of law.”

“That political leaders in both states quickly cowered amid the shrieks of big business and the radical left should alarm us all,” he wrote.

Mr. Jindal, who is weighing a 2016 presidential run, said he won’t be bullied and that he plans to fight in the state’s legislative session for the “Marriage and Conscience Act.”

“The legislation would prohibit the state from denying a person, company or nonprofit group a license, accreditation, employment or contract — or taking other ‘adverse action’ — based on the person or entity’s religious views on the institution of marriage,” he wrote.

Mr. Jindal said he’s already been contacted by corporations who have asked him to oppose the law, but he said he will not be deterred.

“As a nation we would not compel a priest, minister or rabbi to violate his conscience and perform a same-sex wedding ceremony,” he wrote. “But a great many Americans who are not members of the clergy feel just as called to live their faith through their businesses. That’s why we should ensure that musicians, caterers, photographers and others should be immune from government coercion on deeply held religious convictions.”

The bill does not provide a “right to discriminate,” as critics of such laws say, but “merely makes our constitutional freedom so well defined that no judge can miss it,” Mr. Jindal wrote.

He acknowledged polls that indicate Americans’ views on gay marriage are changing, but said he will not change his “faith-driven view” that marriage is between one man and one woman, “even if it becomes a minority opinion.”

“Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all. This strategy requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters. This is the grand bargain that makes freedom’s defense possible,” he concluded.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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