Thursday, February 11, 2016

Georgia House OKs anti-gay bill

The AP reports that the Georgia House has approved a bill explicitly stating that religious officials don't have to perform same-sex marriages that violate their faith. That would be HB-757 which reads, in part:
(a) No minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages, perform rites, or administer sacraments according to the usages of the denomination, when acting in his or her official religious capacity, shall be required to solemnize any marriage, perform any rite, or administer any sacrament in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion under the Constitution of this state or of the United States.
(b) A refusal by an ordained or authorized person pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section shall not give rise to a civil claim or cause of action against such person or result in any state action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against such person based on such refusal."
And:
(b) No religious organization shall be required to rent, lease, or otherwise grant permission for property to be used by another person for an event which is objectionable to such religious organization.
(c) A refusal by a religious organization pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section shall not give rise to a civil claim or cause of action against such religious organization or an employee thereof or result in any state action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against the religious organization or employee based on such refusal."
The first part of this already exists in the United States Constitution. As for the second part, they closely define religious organization but it remains ambiguous. There doesn't seem to be an adverse effect in existing municipal non-discrimination laws. It all seems pretty harmless until you consider that the effect is to enshrine legal discrimination. On that basis, it offends me. According to the House website, the bill passed unanimously.

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