Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Georgia senate merges two anti-gay bills

Georgia SB-284 (First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia) has been merged into SB-757 (Pastor Protection Act). The effect is to weaponize the less contentious SB-757. ADF wrote the boilerplate for both of these bills. It is something that they are peddling throughout red state America.

Before the merger, SB-757 was relatively harmless insofar as exempting clerics from performing same-sex marriage. Of course that right is part of Free Exercise within the First Amendment. The presence of the bill suggests that pastors require protection from “radical homosexual activists.”

A license to discriminate:

Remarkably the stated intent of the now incorporated SB-284 is to prevent discrimination (the full text is here):
To amend Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state government, so as to prohibit discriminatory action against a person who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such marriage;
The effect is to invalidate non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities:
(2) 'Government' means the state or any local subdivision of the state or public instrumentality or public corporate body created by or under authority of state law,
By providing an affirmative defense to charges of discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations:
(b) A person may assert a violation of this chapter as a claim or defense in a judicial, agency, or other proceeding and obtain special damages, a declaratory judgment, or injunctive or other appropriate relief against a government.
This is a shameful and regressive abuse of legislative power deliberately making gay citizens and tax payers unequal. The effect is to expand Free Exercise to free imposition. Moreover, it enshrines in public policy the idea that opposite sex marriages have greater value than same-sex marriages in spite of their legal equality. It amounts to a new form of Jim Crow.

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