Republican lawmakers in Georgia attempted to follow Indiana’s example by introducing a “religious freedom” bill that would allow discrimination in the state by claiming God wants it that way.
SB 129 passed the State Senate by squeezing the vote through while Democrats were in the bathroom. Yes, you read that right. In the House, Democrats came up with a brilliant strategy to combat the bill.
Just like in Indiana, the bill’s supporters claimed it had nothing to do with discrimination, so Democratic lawmakers called their bluff. They attached an amendment to the proposal that would forbid citing religious liberty as a reason to subvert state non-discrimination laws. The vote on that amendment passed committee with the approval of three Republicans.
Yes, the bill was so ridiculous even some Republicans decided it wasn’t good for Georgia.
Rep. Barry Fleming (R) said that the new amendment would “gut the bill,” moving to table it now that it doesn’t allow discrimination as intended.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon (R) said “that amendment would completely undercut the purpose of the bill.” Sen. Roger Bruce (D) informed McKoon, “that tells me the purpose of the bill is to discriminate.”
McKoon quickly denied Bruce’s observation.
If you write a bill calling for “religious liberty” and that bill is tabled because of an amendment forbidding discrimination based on that liberty, your bill was meant to discriminate, plain and simple.
Indiana has come under fire for passing a similar bill with no amendment that allows people to discriminate against just about anything if they claim their religion demands it. By shredding the separation of church and state guaranteed under the 1st Amendment, Indiana has shown just how far they’re willing to go to discriminate, particularly against the gay community.
Several other red states are pursuing bills of this nature, which should keep the federal court system busy for quite some time.