By Robert Mann
I’ve been asking Louisiana chambers of commerce and convention and visitors bureaus to comment on the proposed “religious freedom” bill by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, that would allow private businesses to refuse gay customers based on the business owners’ beliefs about marriage. Most organizations have ignored me or said they haven’t yet taken a position on the legislation.
However, Stephen Perry, CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wednesday issued a lengthy, strongly worded statement of condemnation against such legislation.
“The adoption of certain types of overreaching, problematic and divisive legislation in Louisiana has the possibility of threatening our state’s third largest industry and creating economic losses pushing past a billion dollars a year and costing us tens of thousands of jobs,” Perry said. “Thus, we will be monitoring all legislation filed this year with an eye to economic security and to ensuring that Louisiana presents an image to the nation and the world that reflects open, progressive principles of tolerance and non-discrimination.”
On Thursday, I received an email reply from Paul Arrigo, president & CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. Here is his statement in its entirety:
“Visit Baton Rouge does not have a position on this legislation. We are committed to bringing visitors to our city and region regardless of their religious or personal choices. We welcome everyone with open arms and wish for them to enjoy the many great things Baton Rouge has to offer.”
A true profile in courage.