No to HB 597

Action Alert

Rep. Mike Johnson's anti-gay HB 597 has been scheduled for a committee hearing on Tuesday, April 12! This bill is explained below.

The bill will be debated and voted on in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee. This meeting is open to the public, and we encourage anyone who is able to attend to do so. It begins at 9:30 a.m., and it is possible that it will last into the afternoon. Unfortunately, we will not know when each piece of legislation scheduled will be debated or how long each will take during the hearing.

Please contact key members of the committee listed below with phone calls and emails, asking them to vote AGAINST HB 597 by Rep. Mike Johnson.

Sample Script: Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in __________. I am calling to ask Representative [LAST NAME] to vote AGAINST HB 597 by Rep. Mike Johnson.

After you call, please let us know how the call went by emailing Tell us if you left a message or spoke to a staff member and what they said.

Rep. Robby Carter – (985)748-2245,
Rep. Greg Cromer – (985)645-3592,
Rep. Julie Emerson – (337) 886-4687,
Rep. Tanner Magee – (985) 858-2970,
Rep. Clay Schexnayder – (225)473-6016,

HB 597

PACE strong opposes Mike Johnson's “Pastor Protection Act.” This is a “bait and switch” bill that covers many more people than pastors who can already freely discriminate in performing marriage ceremonies.  Clergy are already free to refuse to marry any couple based on religious belief. This bill with vague wording would enact a new statute that allows widespread discrimination based on religious beliefs about marriage. View the bill here.

The First Amendment already protects the clergy from having to perform a wedding for any couple they do not wish to marry (e.g., gay couples, interracial couples, interfaith couples, previously married and divorced couples, etc.).  No pastor has ever been forced to perform a marriage ceremony for any couple.  Instead this bill has a much broader intent: allows clergy and any other employees of an organization “in connection with a religious organization” to deny services or privileges that could be construed as “related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.”  Vague wording such as “in connection with a religious organization” and “related to the…formation…of any marriage” suggests this bill could be used to enable widespread discriminatory practices.  Religious fundamentalist legal organizations that Rep. Johnson has been affiliated with (e.g., Alliance Defending Freedom) are well-known for writing and backing “bait and switch” bills such as this one.