• Critics of religious freedom bill rally in Capitol


    ATLANTA - Critics rallied to kill a controversial religious freedom bill Tuesday, marching from a church to the state Capitol.

    If passed, the bill sponsored by state senator Josh McKoon would forbid government from infringing on a person's religious beliefs unless the government can prove a compelling interest. It would cover individuals and closely held corporations.

    Supporters of the bill say it protects the rights of people to make decisions based on their faith.

    Opponents say it would allow businesses and people to discriminate in the name of religion.

    Channel 2’s political reporter Lori Geary says right now, opponents are winning the fight.

    Those who oppose the bill point to Indiana as an example, where the governor signed a similar bill into law. After threats of boycotts, outrage from the business community and protests all over Indiana, lawmakers are changing the law by adding anti-discrimination language.

    “I don’t want to see Georgia become the next Indiana,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality.

    Supporters of the bill say there is no evidence of discrimination in the more than 30 other states that have passed similar laws. They believe lawmakers will send a clear message if they fail to pass the bill.

    “I think it’s a pretty clear message to the people of faith that they don’t matter under this gold dome,” said Virginia Galloway, regional field director with the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

    The bill stalled in the Georgia House committee on March 26, after a Republican member of the panel successfully added anti-discrimination language to the proposal. Members of the Judiciary Committee voted to table the bill immediately after nine lawmakers on the panel supported the addition.

    But the bill isn’t dead yet.

    Committees can resume debate on tabled bills, but lawmakers plan to wrap up the 40-day session by midnight of April 2.

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