Another Bill To Allow LGBTQ Discrimination Is Alive In Georgia

State Sen. Marty Harbin of Georgia has introduced SB 221, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people in the Peach state.

Nine state senators (seven of whom are committee chairman) have signed on as cosponsors ahead of the March 7 procedural deadline.

According to Georgia Equality, SB 221 would “allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers, among others, and would grant taxpayer-funded agencies a broad license to discriminate against LGBT youth, families, and other Georgians.” 

In 2016, a similar bill was passed but former Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the legislation as economic backlash prompted the Metro Atlanta Chamber to predict financial losses in excess of $600 million in regard to sporting events, convention business and major movie location shoots.

Newly-elected Gov. Brian Kemp, however, has signaled he will sign a RFRA bill if it lands on his desk.

During his campaign last year, Kemp told his followers he would support legislation that mirrors the language in a federal religious freedom law that was passed in 1993.

That legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, arose out of a 1990 case involving two Native American men who were charged with a felony and denied unemployment benefits for taking peyote as part of a Native American religious ceremony.

But the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the law saying it could only apply to federal government.

As a result, 21 individual states have passed their own state RFRAs.

This week, Democrats in Congress introduced an amendment to the 1993 law, the 'Do No Harm Act.'

The Do No Harm Act clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is intended to protect religious freedom without allowing the infliction of harm on other people.

Georgia's SB 221 includes the same language as the federal RFRA, but also adds provisions for recovering legal costs in religious lawsuits and gives judges the power to change local laws that might be deemed as infringing on religious beliefs.

Georgia political pundits say the bill will probably pass in the senate, but the legislation’s chances in the state House are unclear.

This isn't the only anti-LGBTQ legislation working its way through the Georgia legislature.

Last week, the state senate passed SB 375 (by a vote of 35-19) that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. 

That bill is now headed to the state House for consideration.

Watch the report from local NBC affiliate 11Alive below.

 

 

(h/t 11Alive)

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