by Lisa A. Grimaldi | May 01, 2015
The president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, J. Stephen Perry (pictured), has taken sharp aim at a religious-freedom bill proposed last month by Louisiana State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City).

The bill -- and Perry's reaction -- come on the heels of the very public controversies Indiana and Arkansas faced over similar proposed laws that could potentially allow discrimination against members of the gay community. Both Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson ultimately signed revised bills with language to guard against discrimination.

The Louisiana bill, now under consideration by the state legislature, would allow private companies to refuse to provide same-sex married couples the same benefits to which other married couples are legally entitled, on the basis of a religious objection.

In response, Perry issued a strongly worded and lengthy statement on April 9 in which he addressed the Indiana and Arkansas bills and declared his bureau's intent to monitor closely the proposed legislation in the upcoming Louisiana legislative session.

"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 nondiscrimination." Read the entire statement at