Believe it or not, there is religious liberty news other than the proposals of presidential candidates. Here is a sampling of stories making news across the country:
In Georgia, a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill was stalled in House Committee after passing the Senate when the legislature was in session earlier this year. Now, advocates in the House hope to revisit the bill when they return to work in January. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, however, reports “[t]hree powerful Republican lawmakers on Wednesday said if a religious liberty bill moves forward, it must have anti-discrimination protections.”
Those protections are apparently not sitting well with some of the RFRA sponsors.
You can (still!) follow the progress of Georgia’s Senate Bill 129 and other state RFRA proposals at my 2015 State RFRA Tracker
In North Carolina, a controversial new law allowing county magistrates to opt out of issuing marriage licenses if they object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds is now the subject of a lawsuit. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports:
The advocacy groups behind the suit argue the bill allows magistrates who do not believe in marriage equality to renounce their judicial oath and place their personal beliefs above their sworn constitutional duty. They say its implementation has resulted in the unlawful spending of public money to accomplish an expressly religious goal.
In Ohio, legislation that purports to protect clergy from having to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs is meeting resistance from those who argue that it is unnecessary because the First Amendment already provides that protection, and that it may have unintended consequences. The bill is currently in committee.
In Florida, a judge has refused to issue an injunction halting the state’s school voucher program, despite state constitutional provisions barring aid to religion. Associated Press reports the judge ruled the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring the suit. Another lawsuit brought by the state teacher’s union challenging the program is still pending. A judge’s dismissal of the case earlier this year is being appealed.
Stay tuned on these stories, worth watching in 2016. Want to know what’s happening in your state? Check out the tags that compile blog posts by state.