Politics & Policy

IBM Cancels Louisiana Event after Jindal Issues Executive Order on Religious Liberty

(Win McNamee/Getty)

IBM has quietly canceled a ribbon-cutting event in Louisiana after Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that his critics claim allows discrimination against same-sex couples.

The event, which had been scheduled for today, was originally planned to celebrate the opening of the company’s new National Service Center in Baton Rouge, the state capital. Several high-profile city officials were scheduled to attend, including Davis Rhorer, the executive director of the city’s Downtown Development District.

IBM vocally opposed the “Marriage Conscience Act,” a bill that was proposed in the Louisiana state legislature this session. “A bill that legally protects discrimination based on same-sex marriage status will create a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company’s values,” IBM vice president James Driesse wrote in a letter to Jindal in April. “IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law.”

After lawmakers voted to kill the legislation on May 19, Jindal announced that he would be taking matters into his own hands. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will . . . prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the Louisiana governor said in a statement.

#related#Jindal’s actions were harshly criticized by many in the state, and IBM’s decision to cancel their ribbon-cutting is just the latest blowback the governor has faced. While his executive order hasn’t gotten as much national attention, many compare it to the highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Acts debated in Arkansas and Indiana, which sparked a national conversation on the defense of religious liberty and same-sex marriage.

Continued problems at home have been an issue that Jindal has faced for several months now. A poll released by Southern Media & Opinion Research in May found that Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana sits at a mere 31.8 percent — lower than President Obama’s approval rating among Louisianians. Jindal is nevertheless expected to throw his hat into the ring for the 2016 Republican nomination on Wednesday.

— Julia Porterfield is an intern at National Review, editor-in-chief of Red Millennial, and a junior at Regent University.

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