The Georgia Legislature opens today and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports religious liberty concerns are poised to “dominate” the initial few weeks. A proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill remains tabled in committee in the House, as advocates on both sides argue about its impact on civil rights. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Josh McKoon, has plans to revive it.
From the AJC:
McKoon has spent the past offseason traveling the state to drum up support for his proposal, which has so far been opposed by House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
While McKoon has said repeatedly that he has no anti-gay agenda with the bill, there are other activists who support SB 129 — minus the anti-discrimination language — specifically to provide protections to businesses that object to gay marriage.
Meanwhile, a proposal in Indiana would replace that state’s RFRA law, which was passed last year. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports:
Under the new bill, state government and courts would give “the greatest deference” on six issues: the state constitutional rights to worship, religion, exercise of religion, speech, assembly and bear arms.
Bill sponsor Sen. Michael Young, a Republican from Indianapolis, said the religious freedom law became too convoluted and should be replaced by recognizing the importance of multiple rights.
Advocates of civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people maintain that Young’s bill is aimed at derailing their push.
Stay tuned to RFRA developments in Georgia and Indiana this year – and any other state that takes up similar legislation – at my State RFRA Tracker.