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Being Singled Out?

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The House and Governmental Affairs committee met Tuesday to discuss House Resolution 4 by Representative Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City), which would direct the Louisiana State Law Institute to make particular meetings open to the public. 

The Institute serves as an adviser to the Legislature, offering recommendations on legal reforms.

Lester Perryman, a member of the Human Rights Campaign's Board of Directors, opposed the measure.  

“He may say that his motivations are for religious reasons, he may say it’s to protect the family. And now he claims that transparency is his motivation. Representative Johnson’s resolution," suggested Perryman, "is a blatant attempt to further denigrate and stigmatize the LGBT citizens of Louisiana."  

House Resolution 4 is a response to a Senate request that the Louisiana State Law Institute study what changes may be needed in state law in order to comply with the Supreme Court's Obergefell v Hodges decision regarding same-sex marriage.  

Johnson is the author of last year's Marriage and Conscience Act and this year's Pastor Protection Act, both of which failed.

“It basically requires that study commission to be held in a public forum and recorded, be streamed and archived," Representative Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge) explained.  Ivey presented the measure for Johnson, who wasn’t there.

Representative Gregory Miller (R-Norco) asked why other Law Institute study topics aren’t included.

“Now we’re going to take one particular subject," he remarked, "and say ‘we’re going to carve out a different process for this particular subject?”

Matthew Patterson, Managing Director for Equality Louisiana, explained that other decisions involving marriage law, like child custody statutes or wills, don’t receive this type of attention.

“It’s just never appropriate to single out one single thing as the subject of some extra scrutiny for, what basically amounts to, very little reason,” he said.

”I don’t believe we’re singling people out if we’re discussing the law,” responded Ivey.

Representative John Schroder (R-Covington) disagreed, saying, "if the people feel like they're being singled out, then they are.  That's not left for me to interpret.  That's the way they interpret it and it's our job to listen.  It’s either good policy or it's not. If it’s good policy, we should be doing this across the board.” 

The committee deferred the measure without objection.  

This was one of the last committee meetings of this special session, which has otherwise been concerned with filling a $600 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1.