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Religious Tolerance logo


Religious "freedom to discriminate" bills in Georgia:

Part 10 of ten parts

2016-MAR: Reactions to Governor
Nathan Deal's (R) veto of HB 757.
Attempts to recall the Legislature
to override the Governor's veto.
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In this web site, the acronym "LGBT" refers to the
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual community.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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U.S. map with Georgia highlightedthumb down image

The Family Research Council responded to Governor Deal's veto:

The Family Research Council (FRC) is a conservative Christian para-church organization, which has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of 13 main anti-gay hate groups in the U.S. 1 Its president, Tony Perkins, issued a press release within a few hours of Governor Deal's announcement of his veto. The release is titled:

"Governor Nathan Deal Sides with Those Using the Government to Punish Churches and Ministries, says Family Research Council."

Perkins said;

"The Devil has gone down to Georgia again, but this time it was in the form of big business and cowardly politicians.

"Governor Deal's veto of a watered-down religious liberty bill, which would have barely afforded pastors and priests protections from the state over their beliefs over natural marriage, reveals how LGBT activists and their allies in big business are now not even willing to allow religious freedom within the four walls of a church. It's disappointing that only one day after Easter Sunday, Governor Deal announces the veto of a modest bill that would provide protections for churches threatened by government discrimination in the wake of the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage.

"No person or nonprofit should lose tax exempt status, face fines, lose a professional license or be punished by the government simply for believing what President Obama believed just a few years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. State coercion of faith-based organizations and their millions of adherents for the sake of a radical ideological agenda -- all in the name of 'freedom' -- is an affront not just to Georgians but to all Americans," Perkins concluded. ..." 2

Perkins referred to "natural marriage." This is the name given in Roman Catholic canon law to a union of one woman and one man in marriage by other than by a Catholic sacrament. It is increasingly being used by conservative Protestants to refer to any marriage between a woman and man. The implied message is that marriages between two persons of the same sex are "unnatural."

He indicated a concern over individuals, clergy, religiously based agencies, etc. being prosecuted by the government for their religious beliefs -- particularly their beliefs about the LGBT community and gay marriage. While some public accommodations -- typically retail profit-making outlets in the marriage business, -- have been fined under state and city human rights/anti-discrimination laws and ordinances, to our knowledge, nobody in the U.S. has ever been prosecuted for their religious beliefs in recent decades. Any prosecution have only happened after an individual, company or organization has converted their beliefs into actions that hurt others.

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Responses to the Governors veto were mixed:

  • Sen. Josh McKoon (R) said:

    "The question we have to resolve is whether or not government is going to be used to punish people with a particular point of view," 3

  • Rep. Beth Beskin (R) wrote a tweet, saying:

    "Thank you, Governor Deal, for reaffirming ‘Georgia is a welcoming state’ and vowing to veto HB 757."

  • Senator Elena Parent (D) said:

    "Thank you for vetoing HB757, @GovernorDeal. You have made the right decision for our time and history will reflect that."

  • House Speaker David Ralston, (R) issued a statement, saying:

    "I have shared many of the same concerns expressed by Governor Deal. That is why I have insisted throughout this entire debate that any measure we passed must not only protect the free exercise of religion and faith-based organizations, but also had to include clear anti-discriminatory language. I believed, and still do, that HB 757 met the test we shared.

    It is regrettable that the merits of this measure have been ignored in the days since its passage by critics who had not taken the time to read the bill or understand the legal issues involved."

  • Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) issued a statement, saying:

    "The Georgia General Assembly worked hard to find the right balance on this most challenging of issues. An important and legitimate concern has been largely lost in the hyperbole and criticism surrounding this debate: Our state can and should take an active role in protecting the right of individuals to practice their faith without government interference. I’ve always advocated for Georgia’s status as the number one state to do business, but as we move forward I will never lose sight of the importance of an individual’s right to practice their faith." 3

  • Matt Walsh, wrote a fiery article for The Blaze in titled "Pay Attention, Christians. They’re Coming After The Churches Now." He said:
    "... the American left is now openly declaring its intention to shutdown your church and outlaw your religious expression entirely. ... They plan to come after the churches. That’s what they’ve always wanted, and now they intend to do it. ... I’ve learned not to expect anything — not even one minuscule, microscopic shred of bravery — from Christians like Deal. They will surrender every time, without fail. ... The important fact is that liberals opposed granting basic religious protections to religious organizations. ... These companies — the NFL, Disney, CBS, Apple, etc. ... are repulsed at the notion that religious liberty would exist anywhere in the country, including inside churches and private Christian schools. ... the left does not care. They simply hate Christianity and want it censored, dismantled, and expelled from the country. ... Batten down the hatches, Christians. War has been declared." 5

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2016-MAR-28: Move to recall the Legislature:

The Georgia Legislature is currently in recess until 2017-JAN. Senator Mike Crane (R), who voted for HB 757 earlier in the year, commented that the veto:

"... walsh and protecting the 1st Amendment, the political class would rather sacrifice those rights to keep the money flowing."

A three-fifths vote by the Representatives and Senators would be needed to certify that an emergency exists in the affairs of the state," and the Legislature needs to be called back. That number amounts to 108 Representatives and 34 Senators. Earlier in March, 104 Republican Representatives and 37 Senators voted for the bill. If a special session were called, a two-thirds majority of both Houses would be needed to override Governor Deal's veto.

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Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]:

By "practice their faith," Lt. Gov. Cagle is apparently referring to a religious person having the freedom to actively discriminate against others in violation of the Golden Rule. In the past, religious freedom and liberty have involved freedom of religious belief, speech, assembly, and proselytizing. Lately, it has been expanded by bills like HB 757 to include taking acton on one's religious belief in order to discriminate against the rights of others. Religious freedom has become the religious freedom to oppress, discriminate against and denigrate others.

Unfortunately, none of the members of the Legislature who commented on Governor Deal's veto remarked on a probable side-effect of HR-757. If it were to pass as currently written, it would probably terminate human rights ordinances in Georgia's cities, and thereby removing protection against discrimination from members of the LGBT community, and others.

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More developments are inevitable

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Family Research Council," Southern Poverty Law Center, at: https://www.splcenter.org/
  2. "Governor Nathan Deal Sides with Those Using the Government to Punish Churches and Ministries, says Family Research Council," Family Research Center, 2016-MAR-28, at: http://www.frc.org/
  3. Aaron Gould, "Senators calls for override of Deal veto of religious liberty bill," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2016-MAR-28, at: http://www.ajc.com/
  4. Clair Simms, "Pastor urges signing of religious freedom bill a Easter service," Fox News 5, Atlanta, 2016-MAR-27, at: http://www.fox5atlanta.com/

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2016-MAR-29
Latest update: 2016-MAR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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