During the last few days of the 2016 session of the Georgia General Assembly, an eleventh hour push by certain lawmakers was successful in getting a “religious liberty” bill, H.B. 757, passed by both houses. This is a recurring theme with a handful of Georgia legislators, primarily State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), Representative Sam Teasley (R-Marietta), and State Senator Greg Kirk (R-Americus). Under the guise of “religious freedom” the controversial bill would have protected faith-based organizations who receive state funding (another issue altogether), from lawsuits should people in those organizations decide to turn away taxpayers who in some facet of their lives, are living in “sin” (i.e., anyone in the LGBT community). In addition to contacting the Governor’s office, I penned a quick Letter to the Editor encouraging Governor Nathan Deal to veto the bill. The following letter was published on March 28, 2016, the same day the Governor announced he would indeed veto the legislation.
Any law that lets public accommodations legally discriminate against a person seeking their services, based on some arbitrary characteristic of that person, is reprehensible. It’s a colossal step backward and Georgia is better than this. Let’s hope for the sake of progress and of doing what’s right for our friends and loved ones; not to mention protecting our growing reputation as an inclusive and welcoming business destination, Governor Deal vetoes this divisive piece of legislation.