GOP Senators Allowed No Amendments to Be Proposed to Fast-Tracked Bill â€“ Could Be Signed Into Law as Soon as Monday
The Georgia First AmendmentÂ Defense Act just passed the Senate by a vote of 38-14. The bill now makes its way back to the Georgia House, which only needs to agree on it. In all likelihood, given that a previous version passed unanimously, it will. The anti-gay "religious freedom" legislation could be signed into law by GOP Gov. Nathan Deal as soon as Monday, after the House reconvenes.
The bill, known as FADA, like many that have been making their way around the nation's legislatures this year, makes anti-LGBT discrimination legal by providing special protections for people who wish to claim their religious faith prohibits them from performing certain acts, includingÂ baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, or allowing a child to be adopted by a same-sex couple.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State analyzed the legislation, and concludes the bill "allows any individual or 'faith-based' business, non-profit entity, or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage."
During the initial hearing Friday morning, Republican senators led by Sen. Greg Kirk (photo, lower center), moved quickly to engross the bill, banning any amendments to the legislation from being proposed.Â
In explaining the bill before the vote Friday, Sen. Greg Kirk claimed it does not impact any business, including its relationship with employees, and claimed "it is a live and let live bill." Legal experts disagree.
Sen. Kirk is wrong-- if a religious organization fired a janitor because they married someone of the same-sex, FADA protects them. #gapolâ€” Anthony M. Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) February 19, 2016
Sen. Kirk is not talking about housing discrimination. Why? Because FADA would evicerate the GA Fair Housing Act & local housing law. #gapolâ€” Anthony M. Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) February 19, 2016
In a letter to Georgia SenatorsÂ this week,Â Maggie Garrett, AU's Legislative Director explains "any person, business, or taxpayer-funded organization could refuse anyone else rights, services, and benefits because they: are part of an interracial couple; are part of an interfaith couple; are a single mother; are part of a same-sex couple; are divorced; are remarried; live or have lived with a partner without being married; or have had sex outside of marriage at any time in their life."
Just a few of the troubling real life consequences could include:Â a single mother and her child being denied safety at the domestic violence shelter; a hospital denying a man the opportunity to say goodbye to his dying husband; a cemetery corporation denying an interracial couple a shared cemetery plot; a restaurant refusing to allow a childâ€™s birthday party because his parents are divorced; or an unmarried couple and their child being denied a room at a hotel late at night after their car broke down.
Senator Kirk, who is also a minister, told his fellow lawmakers concerned about religious organizations denying help to someone because they are LGBT, "I have never known a faith-based organization to turn anyone away."Â
"This law does not allow discrimination," he falsely stated.
He then told the Senators that on Sunday, "I want you to look at those church membersÂ in the eye and tell them how you voted."
Kirk: HB 757 protects those millions who believe in traditional marriage. #gapolâ€” Jon Richards (@SiteROI) February 19, 2016
Democratic Senator Emanuel Jones, who is Black, challenged Kirk on his definition of "faith-based organizations," noting that the KKK would fall under that definition. Kirk then compared the Black Panthers to the KKK.
â€œI did see the Superbowl tribute to the black panthers, I guess that could be the same thing.â€â€” Robbie Medwed (@rjmedwed) February 19, 2016
- Senator Kirk #gapol
Kirk, basically: My bill favors people who oppose same-sex marriage, so it's equal protection! #gapolâ€” Zack Ford (@ZackFord) February 19, 2016
Despite excellent arguments by Democratic senators, the bill passed by a huge margin.
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Image by Lori Geary via Twitter