Earlier this month, the Georgia House passed House Bill 757, called the “Pastor Protection Act.” It assures that clergy will not be required to perform, and churches will not be required to host, marriage ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs. Of course, the First Amendment already provides that protection, so while HB 757 was criticized as unnecessary, it was not considered too controversial. The vote was 161-0.
In the state’s Senate, however, the bill has changed. An amendment merged HB 757 with another measure (Senate Bill 284) that offers broad protections to any person who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds against charges of discrimination. The amended bill passed the Georgia Senate 38-14 amid a firestorm of protest. Critics argue the amended bill paves the way for “state-sanctioned discrimination.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Governor Nathan Deal is working with the legislature to change the bill, after reports of businesses from the technology and film industries threatening to leave the state. The House could vote on HB 757 as early as this week.