Faith and Family Recap of 2011 Louisiana Legislature

The 2011 Louisiana Legislature adjourned sine die. Now, it is time to look back over our shoulders and see what significant things happened that impact the faith and family aspects of our state’s culture. I collaborated with several others to monitor about 10% of  over 700 bills that were filed this session. There were some things that were positive. And there were some issues that should give Louisianans a renewed sense of alertness.

As the LBC director of communications and public policy, I am grateful for the support of Louisiana Baptists who have adopted strong biblical resolutions. These form the parameters needed to address the moral and social issues impacting the decisions at the legislature. I’m grateful for the collaboration of several faith and family groups in Baton Rouge including the Moral and Civic Foundation (Dr. Ken Ward), the Louisiana Family Forum and Louisiana Right to Life Federation.

As to some of the positive actions, one only has to look at the leadership of Baptist Representative Frank Hoffman. There are other strong, convictional Baptists in the legislature but Rep. Hoffman (member of First West Monroe) carried the water for one of the most significant pro-life bills in the United States.

Signs of Hope
Hoffman’s bill was HB 636 “Signs of Hope.” This bill requires every abortuary to place in prominent locations signs that communicate the rights of every woman who enters the clinic. The signs look like this:

The legislature passed the measure with broad support and Governor Jindal signed the measure into law.

Sex Offenders
With the expansion of Internet pornography and the rise in the number of sex offenders in Louisiana, the state needed to authorize the formation of a Sexual Assault Task Force for the purpose of establishing criteria for arrest and prosecution of offenders. SB 232, authored by Senator Sherri Cheek, was one of several protection bills that Louisiana Baptists could support. However, an amendment was attached to this bill that singled out ministers who might be accused of said crimes as a special class of potential offenders. Creating a special class of offenders is not constitutionally viable. In the last days of the legislative session the amendment was pulled and the bill passed.

Homosexual Agenda
This is not positive. Surely by now every Baptists has read or heard the sad news from New York about the state legislature and the Governor of New York collaborating to pass a bill sanctioning same-sex marriages. Thankfully in Louisiana we have a Constitutional Amendment that clarifies, defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

However, in spite of the fact it was approved by an overwhelming majority of voters, the Forum for Equality is using several issues to potentially cripple our Constitutional amendment. All the homosexual advocates need is one statute to sanction the civil rights of a person claiming to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

This year we had the same bill as the previous year to allow a “second parent” on the birth certificate of a child. In Louisiana law, we only allow a married heterosexual couple or a single parent to appear on the birth certificate. The phrase “second parent” is code for a person in a homosexual relationship. While there are several individuals who would benefit from such a law, without specific language prohibiting same-sex relationships, this would be all the courts need to overturn the Louisiana Marriage Amendment.

When SB 211 came before the committee, the Senate Labor Committee chaired by Senator Neil Riser, had a strong majority of pro-family Senators. Yet Senator Morrell said that he was using this bill to bring Louisiana into 21st century with a progressive measure that forbids any state agency or department from negative employment policies related to homosexual behavior. The primary aim of this bill was to establish homosexual behavior as a civil right. Baptists and a majority of our state voters do not believe that homosexual behavior should granted civil rights status.
When I spoke to the committee, I reminded them that not too many years ago such behavior was considered by the public to be immoral and illegal. Now, without shame, it is flaunted in public and this bill would sanction it with employment civil rights protections. The homosexual community knows if they can ever get one statute to sanction their behavior as a civil right, it will have a domino effect on many other areas, including the protection of marriage. After some procedural delays, this bill failed in committee.

The 2010 legislative session passed an excellent bill giving public school districts some very important guidelines relating to bullying. School districts across the state worked with citizen, parents and law enforcement to develop comprehensive policies. Some districts are still in the process of establishing viable guidelines to make school facilities safer.
However, the homosexual community rushed into the 2011 legislative session with HB 112 authored by Representative Austin Badon. The goal was to bring in sweeping regulations that required teaching kindergarten through high school students the message of neo-tolerance characterized as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” In essence, the Forum for Equality and their fifty or so young advocates present in the hearing room were attempting to hijack the current bullying statutes before the guidelines established in 2010 had time to work through the system.
What really crushed my heart was the 11 year old they brought to the table to testify for the new guidelines. With tears in his eyes, he said he was bullied because he was gay. While I emotionally sympathized with the young man’s trouble, I wanted to scream, “Who told this young boy he was gay? Has a grown adult, a teacher or counselor funded with tax-payer dollars, told this young boy he was gay?” They don’t have a right to do that. Has someone in authority used the power of their position to fill this boy with all the wrong answers about his confusion.

Ten Commandment Monument
Due to the hard work and testimony of Ruston pastor Mike Holloway, it appeared, for a little while during this session, that the Louisiana Capitol would eventually host a Ten Commandment Monument among the naturalistic/secularism icons that already exist. However, the House bill, HB 211, that passed the House 92-0, was rift with Constitutional language problems that caused the Senate to defer it. Perhaps next year people of faith, whose forefathers built the best of this state, will have opportunity for a monument.

Term Limits
This session marks the end of service for about 20 percent of the legislature. This means that new faces will occupy these very important positions of service and it will be because of your vote this fall. May I exhort you to vote principle and vote pro-life. Is it possible the Lord is leading you toward a ministry of justice through an elected office? If you are a person of principle and biblical conviction, go for it!

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