Anti-gay bill would accomplish nothing but economic, reputational damage

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Last week, the Georgia state Senate voted 38-14 in favor of a bill that turns religion into a shield to excuse anti-gay bigotry, and that allows the use of state tax dollars to carry out such anti-gay bigotry.

As is usual in such legislation, advocates deny its true intent. “Nothing in the bill will allow a public employee to neglect their responsibilities in service to the public,” state Sen. Greg Kirk wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “Nothing in the bill permits discrimination.”

But as usual, what advocates say is quite different from what the legislation in question — in this case House Bill 757 — would actually do. Kirk’s claim is blatantly false, and on several counts. For example, it is false in its claim that the bill does not permit discrimination, because permitting discrimination is its clear and obvious mission. In fact, when offered amendments last week that would clarify the bill’s supposed intent not to legalize discrimination, Kirk and others refused to allow those amendments to be voted upon.

As a result, HB 757 would gut local legislation in Atlanta and elsewhere that attempts to protect gay Georgians against discrimination. A landlord who wants to deny housing to a gay couple, an employer who wants to fire a gay worker, or an employer who wants to deny health insurance and other benefits to a legally gay couple would be free to do so under state law as long as he or she cited religious belief as the reason for doing so.

Nor does the bill deal exclusively with gay marriage as an issue. Instead, it creates a faith-based excuse to discriminate against gay people as a class, regardless of whether they are or wish to be legally married. The bill allows religious-based discrimination by those who believe “that marriage should only be between a man and a woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a union (emphasis mine).In other words, simply being gay is cause enough to be targeted for legalized bigotry.

The bill does include a provision barring government employees from acting upon their own anti-gay bias, as did Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky. But it nonetheless opens the door wide for discrimination from another tax-funded source.

The state of Georgia and local governments contract regularly with faith-based organizations to provide public services. That’s fine; those groups often do important work. But in such cases, the faith-based organizations are acting as agents of the state, performing state functions using state taxpayer dollars. Under HB 757, those agencies will be free to deny those taxpayer-funded services, such as adoption, to gay Georgians, and those Georgians who aredenied services that they paid for by their own tax dollars would have no legal recourse through state law.

Two more points:

1.) The bill is likely to have serious economic repercussions, as the example of Indiana has demonstrated. Companies do not want to relocate to or do business in states that establish themselves as havens for anti-gay bigotry, and a national boycott is already being organized. The film industry, which has plans to open several major studios in the state, is particularly vulnerable. The fact that this legislation is hitting the headlines just as the SEC presidential primary looms, with the political attention of the nation switching to Georgia and the South, only compounds the danger.

To quell the outrage, Indiana was forced to immediately rescind the law and in fact pass a law that for the first time gave gay citizens protection under anti-discrimination legislation. A similar backlash can be expected here.

2.) Some have argued that the state ought to pass such legislation anyway, consequences be damned, because they believe it’s the right thing to do. The problem is, HB 757 would almost certainly be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Romer v. Evans, a 6-3 ruling from 20 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Colorado law that created a special exemption allowing gay Americans to be targeted for discrimination. The court ruled that such laws are unconstitutional because they do not give all citizens equal protection.

“If the constitutional conception of ‘equal protection of the laws’ means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest,” the court held. (As an aside, a private attorney by the name of John Roberts volunteered his time back in 1996 to assist those trying to get that Colorado law struck down. Today, Roberts serves that same Supreme Court as chief justice. So that approach is not likely to get a friendlier hearing more than 20 years later.)

In other words, if we want to enact show legislation that does nothing but give politicians a chance to posture, make Georgia a national embarrassment and almost ensure an economic boycott that could do significant harm to the state, then yes, the House of Representatives ought to follow the lead of the Senate.

Otherwise, it should let it die the quiet death it deserves.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1587 comments
Joaquin Blanco
Joaquin Blanco

If God is love, why are these religious fanatics exercising hate? Did Jesus love everyone or just some people? Are these religious inquisitors living by the teachings of Jesus who never discriminated against anyone?

Joaquin Blanco
Joaquin Blanco

Tax the church as an institution with special interests.

Tressa Rawlinson
Tressa Rawlinson

It's not an anti-gay bill. It's a bill to protect religious freedom of others since it's the left and the so-called LGBT community that are trampling on our rights. AJC is nothing but a left wing news paper anyway that's why I don't subscribe!

Joaquin Blanco
Joaquin Blanco

Whether you admit it or not IT IS anti-gays disguised in the name of "religious freedom inquisition".

Suzan Grace Ingui
Suzan Grace Ingui

Glenda Bagley did he tell you that?God is forgiving, not hateful. let's see where you end up with yur bigotry.

Jackie Gorham
Jackie Gorham

Michelle Gorham Cox .... religion gets in the way every dam$ time... despite the economic need.

Troy Williams
Troy Williams

Ok show me where it covers private businesses

Jane Keeton Kobres
Jane Keeton Kobres

And so, Georgia and other southern states continue to be backward and out of touch with the times.

John Totten
John Totten

How's that saying go -- Fools rush in where angels fear to tread...??? GA, here we go....

JL Robb
JL Robb

Would you like a DNA sample or something like that? Of course, you wouldn't believe that either. UIsed to be a nonbeliever myself and there is no acceptable "proof" when in that frame of mind. I did post an article referencing proof of biblical history yesterday. You must have missed it, like you missed the opportunity to know God. But we Christians will pray for you, like it or not. Like GEICO, that's just what we do.

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

That's not the new covenant. Read your bible. Ask for wisdom.

Alex Groleau
Alex Groleau

Please explain to me Sam Williams how that doesn't allow any public or private organization that adds any statement of religious belief to their articles of organization to discriminate? :P

Alex Groleau
Alex Groleau

From HB 757: Government shall not take any adverse action against a person or faith-based organization wholly or partially on the basis that such person or faith-based organization believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief regarding lawful marriage between two people, including the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a union. 'Faith-based organization' means any organization or other legal entity whose governing documents or mission statement expressly acknowledges a religious belief or purpose.

Ryan Jones
Ryan Jones

It's not just anti-gay. This bill can harm single mothers, unwed or interracial couples, or anyone who for any reason can be said goes against a religion. Please stop making this a one trick pony, because it will hurt so many more than just the LGBTQ+ community

Dennis Lee Bates Jr.
Dennis Lee Bates Jr.

Justin DePietro , it has nothing to do with hate. It's about being labeled as supporting something we don't believe to be right. I know plenty of gays/lesbians, but I don't have to agree with their lifestyle. Just as I know lots who smoke or drink, but I don't have to agree with it or participate.

UGA3434
UGA3434

How can Christians accept anything other than a union of one man and one woman as a marriage?


Read Romans 1:26-27 "26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

Neal Fountain
Neal Fountain

I really doubt this even would make past the state Supreme Court

Neal Fountain
Neal Fountain

Roe v wade started in Texas and ended on the steps of the Supreme Court

Neal Fountain
Neal Fountain

It will after someone sues the state, which will happen, then takes it to the Supreme Court

Richard Lindsay
Richard Lindsay

Posturing? Won't their Supreme Court strike it down. These politicians are protecting their image for their conservative constituency knowing full well it can't pass. But they are gaining votes. If the electorate was savvy it would see this as more government waste. But maybe that's what they want to feel like they are being heard. Government has a duty to waste money. Who would have thunk it?

Jay Lee
Jay Lee

We need to vote all the GOP out of office. This is ridiculous. They destroy our state little by little. Thye don't know how to govern.

Alex Kinnebrew
Alex Kinnebrew

This wouldn't fall under the Supreme Court's jurisdiction at all.

Tricia Hindman Dittlau
Tricia Hindman Dittlau

I feel like I'm stuck in a 1950s version of Groundhog Day. What is up with these Senators?!

Allen Gregg
Allen Gregg

The rumblings are already happening in the movie studios who are doing work here. Once it gets out eventually you will have actors/actresses who won't do work in a studio here because of it and regardless of tax credits, fewer productions will be shot here. Conventions will begin to pull out on some level, too. Oh but don't worry about the tens of millions of dollars we'll lose... you'll save $150 when you don't have to bake a "gay cake".

Justin DePietro
Justin DePietro

Well then we need to all start stoning to death EVERY single woman who has had sex before marriage because that's what is stated and commanded to be done in Leviticus. Every girl or woman WHO HAS HAD SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE. You're all cherry-picking liars who are too coward to admit both your hypocrisy and your enjoyment of hating on us because you're obviously an awful, ignorant, hateful bigots that have overwhelming desires to suppress other fellow human beings to make yourself feel holy. Because your faith makes so much sense.

Justin DePietro
Justin DePietro

Most gay people don't want a bigoted POS baking our cakes and so on, but so what? It's a freaking CAKE!!!!!! Just a simple cake. Just admit deep down, you have hate in your heart and enjoy degrading a certain class of people.

Glenda Bagley
Glenda Bagley

Ama Toscana do you care to explain what you meant by the EMT can't discriminate by law and that the logic is already lost to here ? No the EMT cannot discriminate by law....

Kamchak
Kamchak

Fascist Trump SHEETZ

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kamchak 

oh Jay, must you pay attention to the 800 pound poop flinging gorilla?

(apologies to actual gorillas.)

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Since we're actually still talking Guantanamo and due process?

An oldie but goodie, from noted commie/terrorist sympathizer William Safire.


http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/15/opinion/15SAFI.html


Misadvised by a frustrated and panic-stricken attorney general, a president of the United States has just assumed what amounts to dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens. Intimidated by terrorists and inflamed by a passion for rough justice, we are letting George W. Bush get away with the replacement of the American rule of law with military kangaroo courts.

In his infamous emergency order, Bush admits to dismissing "the principles of law and the rules of evidence" that undergird America's system of justice. He seizes the power to circumvent the courts and set up his own drumhead tribunals — panels of officers who will sit in judgment of non-citizens who the president need only claim "reason to believe" are members of terrorist organizations.

Not content with his previous decision to permit police to eavesdrop on a suspect's conversations with an attorney, Bush now strips the alien accused of even the limited rights afforded by a court-martial. 

No longer does the judicial branch and an independent jury stand between the government and the accused. In lieu of those checks and balances central to our legal system, non-citizens face an executive that is now investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer or executioner. In an Orwellian twist, Bush's order calls this Soviet-style abomination "a full and fair trial."


Corey
Corey

Is your god so weak, fragile and insecure that he needs man to write laws to prop him up and keep his feelings from being hurt? No. Imagined realties are fragile. Pull the wrong thread and a garment unravels.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@DownInAlbany 

Because they are not citizens (for the most part) and they have committed acts of war against us?/////

 What about when they've been affiliated with groups to which we have given support, training and arms to fight our wars abroad and perhaps have even been on our intelligence radar (see: Tsarnaevs)? 

Jeanne Powers Oneacre
Jeanne Powers Oneacre

If you are male, female,Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Asian or any other ethnicity, old, young or in between, gay or straight or even bisexual, if laws are made to serve your purpose or specific interest and take away the right to my own personal freedoms of choice and belief, what does that say to literally millions of US citizens? If I do not like hamburgers at a specific place, I go somewhere else, I do not solicit laws to make you make the hamburger I like or think you should make. I have gay friends that I love and respect and feelings are mutual. I do not have to be "like" they are to love them. Though many changes may need to be made, we have way too many self interest groups, even in politics, that have no benefit for the whole of nation and yet that seems to be our focus. As a retired nurse, I cared for you no matter what your situation may have been, it did not change how I helped you return to health if possible.

rimsky
rimsky

Because they are not citizens (for the most part) and they have committed acts of war against us?/////

Mr. Albany you ought to rethink that.  There are green card holders, student visa, visitor visa, etc. etc.  They not citizens.  In the eyes of the law they have similar rights in this country.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@rimsky "Because they are not citizens (for the most part) and they have committed acts of war against us?"  The "and" in my comment is an important word, huh?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Nick_Danger @DownInAlbany @rimsky Some of them HAVE been convicted of war crimes.  (see link below).  Some, true, have not been convicted of a crime.  Some pled guilty.  Some have been recommended (by the Obama admin) to be referred for trial. 

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

What a swamp of reaction, the Bookman blog. Lol.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

But but Obama. Lol

He's an 'African' American. He was, you know, raised white," he told a Politico podcast. "I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but … he didn't grow up like I grew up … Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch."

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@VC,Paulin,

There are some gems in that article. He's embarrassing himself again