"First he called me a dumbass, then he said if I wanted to sh*t on House bills that I should run for the House," says Senator Josh McKoon.
Republican state lawmakers hilariously clashed over anti-LGBT religious freedom legislation in Georgia this week,Â with the House speaker's counsel reportedly calling an anti-gay GOP senator a "dumbass" for criticizing the state's so-called "Pastor Protection Act."
Republican Sen. Josh McKoonÂ (photo),Â the author of a sweeping anti-LGBT religious freedom bill that's been stalled in the Legislature for two sessions, took to the Senate floor on Thursday to express frustration that the far narrower Pastor Protection Act is sailing through the process, Project Q Atlanta reports.Â
Although it's plenty mean-spirited, the Pastor Protection ActÂ merely reaffirms existing protections under the First Amendment, saying clergy and religious organizations can't be forced to participate in same-sex weddings, and it passed the House unanimously.Â
In a refreshingly honest and accurate assessment of the bill from the anti-LGBT lawmaker, McKoon called the Pastor Protection Act "a cheap political trick," urging colleagues to instead pass his Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or GOP Sen. Mark Kirk's "First Amendment Defense Act," which also appears to be stalled.
"The best thing I can say about that piece of legislation is the name," McKoon said of the Pastor Protection Act. "If we were to be accurate about what the bill is really intended to do we would call it the Politician Protection Act. The protection that is being afforded in this proposed piece of legislation is not meaningful.Â
"Why is it racing through the legislative process at warp speed?" he added. "The answer would be that those who originally opposed any effort to move this issue forward now recognize that something must be done. The people are demanding that something be done. And now we have a bill that is tailor-made for direct mail pieces. It is tailor-made for people going back home to campaign. But it does not one thing to protect religious freedom."Â
GOP House SpeakerÂ David Ralston'sÂ legal counsel, Terry Chastain, reportedly responded to McKoon's speech by ripping into the senator in a profanity-laced attack that occurred in a public area outside the Senate president's office.Â
"First he called me a dumbass, then he said if I wanted to shit on House bills that I should run for the House,"Â McKoon explained to WSB.
In 6 years at the General Assembly I have never witnessed such vulgar, unprofessional behavior:... https://t.co/VguhJc15mqâ€” JoshMcKoon (@JoshMcKoon) February 12, 2016
The senator also later took to his Facebook page to pout.
"Evidently in addition to refusing to defend the free exercise of Georgians, if he could have it his way he would take away my right of free speech," McKoon wrote of Ralston. "Vulgarity and intimidation tactics are totally unacceptable. Anyone that thinks that will get them anywhere with me is seriously mistaken." Â Â Â
Pass the popcorn, folks. Even conservative, virulently anti-gay blogger Erick Erickson is upset:Â
Here is David Ralston's phone number. Ask him why his staff is cussing out Christians who support religious liberty. https://t.co/cx21OoczNLâ€” Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 12, 2016
Image via FacebookÂ