Louisiana, It's Time for Change!

I am appalled and embarrassed at my home state of Louisiana for tolerating Governor Bobby Jindal's recent ludicrous attempt to stifle equal rights based on religious views. I just hope this doesn't cost the state hundreds of jobs in his attempt at national office. Governor Jindal should follow the lead of corporate America on equality and stop with the right-wing, evangelical publicity for national office.

I was born and raised in rural, northeast Louisiana. I am openly gay and a Christian. I attended both undergraduate and graduate school at public Louisiana universities, most of which are now going bankrupt under Mr. Jindal's government. This country was founded on the right that all Americans be treated equal. It is unfortunate that Governor Jindal is unable to separate church and state and he has decided to attempt to run his government in a way that discriminates against an entire population of people.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States began oral arguments to decide whether the U.S. Constitution allows for states to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples by denying them the right to marry. Recent polls show that 61 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage in this country. It is very unclear to me why people like Governor Jindal are still attempting to enact legislation that hinders a large population of people's rights in this country based solely on religious beliefs. Mr. Jindal would be smart to back away from this issue as recent attempts have proven unsuccessful and unpopular nationwide. Besides, the people of our home state as well as the economy could use his attention as opposed to his national traveling bid for higher office.

Mr. Jindal is telling corporations and small businesses "don't waste your breath," when the economy in Louisiana under his watch is failing. His economic development strategy combined with his backward worldview on social issues does not show that Louisiana is open for business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana's unemployment rate is higher than 45 other states. Many Louisiana universities are preparing to file for bankruptcy including the flagship university, Louisiana State University (LSU). It is embarrassing that Mr. Jindal is sending such an arrogant statement to the business community when his state's economy is in shambles.

As a young Louisiana native now living in California, I can speak for many of my fellow friends and colleagues who have moved away from our home. It is because of policies like these and the poorly run government that we are being pushed out of our home state. We all believe in a Louisiana that the world loves and embraces, a melting pot of culture and diversity. We believe in a Louisiana where our friends and families love and accept us for who we are, no matter who we love. We believe in a Louisiana that represents the true heart of America. We do not believe in a place full of hatred and closed-mindedness that combats that very diversity we were founded upon.

This is an opportunity for states like Louisiana to speak out for love. Most people I talk to from my home state agree that people should have the right to government acknowledgment. It is when the conversation switches to religion that people go up in arms. Unfortunately, legislation like this in Louisiana and radical right-wing politicians bring the conversation back to religion. In reality, we are not arguing the religious definition of "marriage," we are asking the government to acknowledge our equal rights under the government, separated from religion. We are asking for financial ability, estate planning, adoption rights, end of life support, and many other government-related issues from our unions. We are also asking for a more moderate elected officials that are willing to cross party lines for the betterment of our people.

Religious belief, irrespective of the god that is worshipped, is the root cause of politicians denying equal rights to all Americans. All one has to do is look at which states still deny these rights and it becomes pretty evident. As a voting American, I truly believe marriage should be separated from religion across the board. We should not be denying rights based on religious beliefs albeit radical beliefs as my church never taught this level of intolerance as a Christian.

At the end of the day, people are people. The fact that one's sexuality is different from the mainstream does not, and should not, allow anybody, on religious or any other grounds, the right to discriminate against them. The church, or any other legal entity, should be able to marry anybody at any time. The Bible has long been used to discriminate against many people and it is time for this to stop. At the end of the day, I believe in equal rights for all Americans regardless of color, sexual preference or many other issues -- which as an immigrant family, Mr. Jindal should understand more than most. Interesting that he holds a two centuries old belief and is not budging on it. Two hundred years ago, someone named Jindal would not have been elected to public office in the South. Perhaps he should think about that.

Louisiana, it is time to take a stand and show the world what you're really made of. It is time to join the right side of history and provide equal rights for everyone.