by: Lori Geary Updated:ATLANTA —
A cultural war over religious freedoms has now erupted under the Gold Dome in Georgia.
Supporters of House
bill 1023 say it provides Georgians the same level of protections for their religious beliefs as inmates in the federal prison system, as signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Opponents though say the bill goes so much further, and actually allows religious beliefs to trump current laws, including those that guard against discrimination.
State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who sponsored a similar bill that has passed a committee, told Channel 2’s Lori Geary, “The only folks that have spoken against this legislation are people that want the government to be a tool to promote militant atheism.”
McKoon said this is not a controversial bill at all, that it’s simply a question of whether or not Georgians will be protected when it comes to their religious liberties.
Opponents strongly disagree. It was standing room only during a hearing on the House side Monday.
Members and supporters of the gay and lesbian community showed up in force, filling the room to capacity. No one else was allowed in after the meeting got underway.
“If a waiter says that they (a couple) look gay to them, the waiter could refuse to serve them,” Georgia Equality’s Jeff Graham told Geary. “The business owner could refuse to have them into the establishment.”
Graham said it’s time to put these kinds of issues to rest for this year’s legislative session and take a look at them when there are problems in Georgia that need to be addressed.
Religious freedom bill causing controversy at the Gold Dome
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