Dozens of Major Corporations Urged Nathan Deal to Not Make Discriminatory Bill Law
Governor Nathan Deal has just announced he will veto HB 757, an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill that has been condemned by dozens of large multi-national corporation that do business in Georgia. Several warned they would leave the Peach State should the discriminatory bill become law, and over 500 companies joined Georgia Prospers, a coalition devoted to opposing discrimination.Â
Gov. Deal said he would have signed HB 757 had it remained in its original form, the Pastor Protect Bill. He noted that many oppose the bill, but repeatedly stated that there are no instances in Georgia that have happened that would require HB 757. And he pointed to the Founding Fathers, and mentioned the late Antonin Scalia’s theory of “negative protections,” suggesting the bill is overly broad.Â
But Deal also said he will not bow to threats, including those from the business community.Â
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith based community,” Deal said. “I believeÂ it is about the character of of state, and the character of our people,” Deal said, announcing his veto.
â€œTheirÂ efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it would allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment,â€ he added.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes Gov. Deal’s “plannedÂ veto will likely infuriate religious conservatives who considered the measure,Â House Bill 757, their top priority. This is the third legislative session theyâ€™ve sought to strengthen legal protections from opponents of gay marriage, but last yearâ€™s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex weddings galvanized their efforts.”
“Already, prominent conservatives have vowed to revive the measure next year if Deal chooses not to sign it,” the AJC adds.
Georgia enjoys a $1.7 billion film and television industry. Many major studios and media conglomerates, including Disney, Time Warner, AMC, Viacom, and over the past week urged Gov. Deal to veto the bill. Some, including 34 entertainment industry giants, made clear they will pull their business out of the state should it become law. The NFL warned it might refuse to hold a Super Bowl in Georgia should the governor sign the bill into law.
The bill, HB 757, the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is one of dozens of so-called “religious freedom” bills that incorrectly often claim to “mirror” the federal Religious Freedom Protection Act, that have been pushed in state legislatures across the nation. They are all direct responses to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In additionÂ to restating the First Amendment right that pastors and other religious clerics cannot be legally forced to solemnize any marriage which they oppose, HB 757, sponsored by GOP SenatorÂ Greg Kirk, would haveÂ provided legal cover for “faith based organizations” to refuse services “that violate such faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” It would have allowed them to refuse to “rent, lease, or otherwise grant permission for property to be used by another person for an event which is objectionable to such faith based organization.”
Gov. Deal has published his full remarks on his website:
The decision surrounding HBÂ 757 has generated more intense feelings that most legislation, perhaps because it has highlighted the concerns of many in our religious communities regarding the actions of federal courts, especially the United States Supreme Court in its 5-4 opinion last summer which legalized same sex marriage. (Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ____(2015)).
HBÂ 757 enumerates certain actions that religious leaders, faith-based organizations and people of faith shall not be required to take or perform. These include solemnizing a marriage, attending such marriages, hiring church personnel or renting church property when such acts would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs. While most people would agree that government should not force such actions, there has not been a single instance of such taking place in Georgia. If there has been any case of this type in our state it has not been called to my attention. The examples being cited by the proponents of this bill have occurred in other states that have very different laws than Georgia.
One example that is used is the photographer in New Mexico who refused to photograph a same sex marriage (Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, 309 P. 3d53 (2013)). Â That state has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but it was not applicable. It was the New Mexico Human Rights Act that determined the results in that case. Georgia does not have a Human Rights Act.
The second case that is cited is that of the bakery in Colorado that refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple. There the court ruling was based on Coloradoâ€™s Public Accommodation Act which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation (Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc. ____ P 3d_(2015)). Georgia does not have a Public Accommodation Act.
Therefore, as I have examined the protections this bill seeks to provide to religious organizations and people of faith I can find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia. It is also apparent that the cases being cited from other states occurred because those state had passed statues that specifically protected their citizens from adverse actions based on their sexual orientation. Georgia has no such statues. Â
HBÂ 757 appeared in several forms during the recent session of the Georgia General Assembly. I had no objection to the â€œPastor Protection Actâ€ that was passed by the House of Representatives. The other versions of the bill, however, contained language that could give rise to state sanctioned discrimination. I did have problems with that and made my concerns known as did many other individuals and organizations, including some within the faith based community.
I appreciate the efforts of the General Assembly to address these concerns and my actions today in no way disparage their motivations on those who support this bill, Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it will allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate on something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment of the United State Constitution.
That may be why our Founding Fathers did not attempt to list in detail the circumstances that religious liberty embraced. Instead, they adopted what the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia referred to as â€œnegative protection.â€ That is, rather than telling government what it can do regarding religion, they told government what it could not do, namely, â€œestablish a religion or interfere with the free exercise thereof.â€ They had previously proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that Manâ€™s Creator had endowed all men â€œwith certain unalienable rights,â€ including â€œLibertyâ€ which embraces religious liberty. They made it clear that those liberties were given by God and not by manâ€™s government. Therefore, it was unnecessary to enumerate in statue or constitution what those liberties included.
In light of our history, I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should need the â€œhands offâ€ admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statues can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take.
Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character.Â Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state.Â I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do.
As I’ve said before,Â I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith based community in Georgia of which my family and I are a part of for all of our lives.Â Our actions on HBÂ 757 are not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia.
This is about the character of our State and the character of its people.Â Georgia is a welcoming State filled with warm, friendly and loving people. Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings.Â Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities.Â That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.
For that reason, I will veto HBÂ 757.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
Image: Screenshot of Gov. Deal via his video announcement
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White House Secretly Meeting With Republicans to Limit Impeachment Trial as President Courts GOP Senators
The Trump White House is in secret talks with top Senate Republicans to draft a strategy on how the impeachment trial will be conducted after the House passes what are expected to be damning articles of impeachment. The president has been focused the past few weeks on sitting down with Senate Republicans individually or in small groups to take the temperature of the caucus and to woo those who have occasionally suggested they might be uncomfortable with the actions he has taken that have led to the current impeachment inquiry.
“A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks,” The Washington Post reports late Thursday afternoon.
Among the Republican Senators who clandestinely met with top Trump White House advisors are: Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). The six strong Trump supporters met, according to the Post, “with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.”
Earlier Thursday Politico reported “Trump cozies up to GOP during impeachment,”noting the President has been “aggressively courting Senate Republicans” including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, both seen as potentially dangerous to Trump should the Senate hold an impeachment trial.
In a separate Politico article Politico suggests the White House attempted to convince the majority-Republican Senate to immediately dismiss any articles of impeachment and hold no trial.
Senators “informed the White House that there simply aren’t the votes to approve a motion to dismiss the trial; it would take just three Republicans to block any impeachment vote on the Senate floor.”
The Washington Post echoed that reporting, explaining that “even a two-week trial could run counter to what Trump has expressed privately. The president is ‘miserable’ about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings right away.”
Watch: Nunes Stunned When State Dept. Official Knocks Down His ‘Black Ledger Isn’t Real’ Conspiracy Theory
Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Member Devin Nunes Thursday afternoon appeared stunned when he questioned a U.S. State Dept. official during the impeachment hearings and did not get the answer he anticipated.
Rep. Nunes has been spewing far right wing conspiracy theories during each impeachment hearing over the past two weeks, including the thoroughly debunked lie that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked the U.S. 2016 election.
(Earlier one of today’s witnesses, Dr. Fiona Hill, publicly lambasted the spreading of the false Ukraine conspiracy theory as she sat just feet away from Nunes. The video is here.)
Nunes asked David Holmes, who is the State Dept.’s counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine about the “black ledger.”
That line of questioning did not go well for Nunes.
Nunes asked if Holmes had “ever heard of the black ledger.”
“I have,” Holmes replied.
“The black ledger – is that seen as ‘credible’ information?” Nunes asked.
“Yes,” Holmes responded without hesitation.
Surprised, Nunes repeated his question.
“The black ledger is credible?”
“Yes,” Holmes again replied.
Nunes did not look pleased.
“Bob Mueller did not find it credible. Do you dispute what Bob Mueller’s findings were? – They didn’t use it in the prosecution or in the report.”
“I’m not aware that Bob Mueller did not find it credible. I think it was evidence in other criminal proceedings. Its credibility was not questioned in those proceedings, but I’m not an expert on that.”
As Nunes goes back to the well of Ukraine 2016 conspiracy theories, Holmes shoots down his nonsense regarding the black ledger that exposed Manafort’s corrupt dealings in Ukraine: pic.twitter.com/JIo1mvl3Kt
— The Moscow Project (@moscow_project) November 21, 2019
Holmes is correct – it was used as evidence in prosecutions (see below).
The black ledger is a register of off-the-book payments made by the corrupt now-former ruling party of Ukraine – not today’s ruling party.
It contains details of 22 payments allegedly made to Paul Manafort, totaling $12.7 million, by his former client, the ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort later became Donald Trump’s election campaign chairman. When the ledger was exposed Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign. He is now in prison, serving a 90-month federal sentence.
Mueller actually did find the black ledger credible, as The Washington Post reported one week ago. It was used as evidence in Mueller’s indictment against Manafort.
Rep. Nunes appears to believe the existence of the black ledger and its authenticity are conspiracy theories. He is the one spreading conspiracy theories. The black ledger is real.
RNC Chair Attacks ‘Progressive Liberal’ Pete Buttigieg – Says Trump Would Beat Him for Lack of Foreign Policy Experience
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is targeting Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, apparently seeing his rise in the polls as a threat to President Donald Trump.
McDaniel Thursday told reporters at a breakfast meeting the South Bend, Indiana mayor who currently is polling in first place in Iowa is not a moderate but a “progressive liberal,” and insisted President Trump would beat him should he become the Democratic nominee, The Hill reports.
“Pete is a progressive liberal in moderate clothing,” McDaniel said at the event for members of the media which was hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “He is somebody who raised his hand to give health care to illegal immigrants. He is somebody who has said he wants to stack the Supreme Court up to 15 judges.”
“This is not somebody who is a moderate,” McDaniel added. “Just because he’s from South Bend, Indiana, doesn’t make him that.”
Claiming the 37-year old former Navy Reserves Lieutenant who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an intelligence officer is not a “strong” candidate, McDaniel declared, “I think the president wins against Pete Buttigieg.”
“I think he wins big. He doesn’t have any foreign policy experience, he has not been successful,” she added, incorrectly, “he hasn’t, as an executive, had the task of sending people to war.”
Before becoming president Donald Trump had less foreign policy experience than Buttigieg does today, and has never served in the U.S. Armed Forces – except for his title of Commander-in-Chief.
Trump also waited nearly two years into his term before visiting troops overseas.
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