New Orleans Tourism Industry Responds to Louisiana Governor’s Executive Order
In the state of Louisiana, a Governor’s Executive Order Does Not Change the Law
New Orleans, LA (May 20, 2015) – In Louisiana this legislative session, a new freshman legislator, Rep Mike Johnson (R) of Shreveport proposed a novel twist on religious freedom laws that have been in the news recently around the nation. After careful deliberation yesterday, the House Civil Law and Procedure committee voted overwhelmingly in bipartisan fashion across party lines 10 – 2 to return HB 707 – The Marriage and Conscience Act, to the calendar, meaning the bill would not advance past the first step in the legislative process.
Two hours later, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who formed a presidential exploratory committee this week and has positioned himself as a national leader on religious freedom matters as relate to discrimination, issued an Executive Order that mirrored some of the narrow intent of HB 707 as related to state actions.
The New Orleans tourism industry, along with other state business sectors and leaders, after reviewing the Governor’s executive order, and consulting with constitutional law experts and executive counsels to former governors who are experts on executive orders, are certain that, based on the Louisiana Constitution and recent court rulings, the enactment of any substantive law changes made by the governor in his executive order are invalid and have no impact on Louisiana law.
This executive order is largely a political statement by our conservative governor in support of his national position on the issue. That is certainly his right. It is important for those who visit Louisiana to know that its effect in essence is that of a political campaign document.
Unlike expansive laws proposed and passed, then revisited, in Indiana and Arkansas due to the public and business outcry, the Louisiana law proposed was very narrow. The law would have prohibited the state from taking four specifically delineated actions such as revocation of business licenses or revocation of tax standing against individuals or businesses who take certain actions considered in compliance with their religious beliefs solely as relate to same sex marriage, whether for or against such marriages. Rep. Johnson also proposed amendments that would have specifically prohibited discrimination in the marketplace in the legislation.
The bill that was discussed and voted down in committee today sought to address an issue that does not exist in our state – persecution of business owners by the state when practicing religious freedom. In fact, there is not one case pending in Louisiana of discrimination on the basis of views held on same-sex marriage…a strong statement on the openness, hospitality, and commitment to equality of all Louisiana businesses.
“There are NO pending cases of any Louisiana business and especially no hospitality businesses engaging in discrimination,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention Visitors Bureau. “New Orleans has historically demonstrated itself as one of the most welcoming, open, tolerant, and inviting communities in the world.”
In the state of Louisiana:
- This executive order has no effect on the law of Louisiana
- The Louisiana constitution prohibits an Executive Order from enacting substantive law.
Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation said “We will continue with our CVB and economic development partners to promote and market New Orleans and Louisiana as destinations for the world’s greatest vacations, conventions and meetings, and special events and as premier sites for economic growth and expansion that offer the ultimate in inclusiveness, tolerance, and acceptance with a dynamic, vibrant and entrepreneurial bent and culturally rich climate. This is a hallmark of who we are as people.”
Perry continued “Our industry remains committed to total tolerance and inclusiveness in the free marketplace and such is demanded by our businesses and by our customers nationally and internationally. We are opposed to all legislation that could either limit our freedom of religion for all or that could negatively impact our state’s economy and our reputation as an international and national leader in economic development, digital media, entrepreneurship, tourism, meetings, conventions and special events. We heartily and warmly welcome all visitors and groups of all political and philosophical orientations and welcome everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, cultural background, creed, religion, or religious interpretation of their faith.”
New Orleans is a city with deep historical roots in faith with large Catholic, Protestant and Jewish bases among others. We are deeply committed to religious freedom for all and enjoy hosting as many religious groups as scientific groups. However, we are an exceptionally tolerant and open city and do not discriminate against any visitors or followers of any religion, or subsets of those religions, and we relish the diversity of our visitor base. We love welcoming those who are different from each other. Such is the authentic spirit of life.
We are delighted that the New Orleans tourism and business community could play a role as significant thought leaders in winning this important legislative battle and preserving a destination and state with a long history of tolerance and openness.
About The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) The NOCVB is a nationally accredited, 1,100-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and four foreign countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrates its 55th anniversary in 2015. For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com; www.facebook.com/neworleans; www.twitter.com/neworleans.
About New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) NOTMC promotes the city as a leisure tourism destination throughout the year. Annually, NOTMC’s marketing campaigns include strategic print, broadcast, and Internet advertising and public relations. Websites: NewOrleansOnline.com; http://www.followyournola.com; GoNOLA.com; Facebook.com/NewOrleans; Twitter.com/visitneworleans; Instagram.com/VisitNewOrleans; YouTube.com/gonolatv.
Kristian Sonnier, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, email@example.com, 504-481-7933
Lea Sinclair, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, firstname.lastname@example.org, 504-491-5330