As this year’s legislative session nears an end in Texas, major bills promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are stalled. So what happens if none of those bills passes? Our neighboring state to the east might be providing one possible answer.
On Tuesday a legislative committee in Louisiana essentially rejected a sweeping, Indiana-style discrimination bill. That legislation would allow individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate against legally married gay and lesbian couples. Hours later, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thumbed his nose at state lawmakers and issued an executive order imposing the discrimination policy on his state anyway.
This desperate political gamble by Jindal, who is pushing for the support of religious-righters in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination next year, has already been met by a storm of criticism (including charges of hypocrisy).
But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is praising Jindal:
“Great step by a strong leader,” Paxton tweeted today, before cynically equating religious liberty with discrimination.
Paxton is one of the most strident opponents of LGBT equality, especially the freedom to marry. He has insisted that Texas lawmakers pass legislation that would help him resist a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer striking down state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
Whether the Legislature ultimately passes such a measure, Paxton has sounded like a man searching for a way to block any such ruling. In fact, Paxton has even refused to say whether Texas would have to obey the Supreme Court.
The reality is Texas would be constitutionally bound by a Supreme Court decision. But Texans should be prepared for the legal chaos that follows if the state’s top law enforcement official refuses to accept that reality.