Georgia (and the First Amendment) on My Mind [Call to Action]
I have had Georgia on my mind for quite some time.
The fight over individual liberty has now split open in the Peach State. While pecan pie is a well-known staple of this thriving and diverse region, the lawmakers have picked another fight for liberty, and Governor Nathan Deal needs to declare: “This is the deal!” and protect the First Amendment.
Originally founded as a social experiment to ease incarcerated individuals in debtor’s prison, Georgia would later become a thriving, developed, and open state.
I even met some native Californians who moved to the Peach state. Why? They were looking for a peachier quality of life, with a lower cost of living, coupled with more affordable housing.
The 1996 Olympics opened up in Atlanta, a surprising and prosperous turn for a region where poverty had become the norm for decades—if not an entire century—after the Civil War.
To its benefit, Georgia has become one of the reddest states in the union. So conservative, that Democrats have to run against their party to win, or have run away altogether. The current governor, Nathan Deal, used to be a Democrat! The biggest political dynasties in Georgia politics, Nunn and Carter, have cratered and come to nothing in the last two election cycles.
The Southern Democrat has become a “peculiar institution”, akin to slavery.
Good for Georgia!
The state legislature has rolled out conservative, pro-liberty reforms at an accelerated pace, too. They expanded recognition for the Second Amendment. Concealed carry is allowed in churches and private places, not just in the public square. The state legislature told off the federal government, declaring that they would refuse to comply with the overreaching—and blatantly unconstitutional—Affordable Care Act.
Governor Deal has reached out to minority communities, strengthening charter schools and signing off on tax credit programs to entice more business to the region. Georgia is fast developing into the Southern Hollywood, rivaling the depleted movie projects in Southern California.
For decades, the Peach State earned a reputation as pro-civil rights, too, providing respect and respite for minority communities, even when Jim Crow, segregation, and white supremacy movements had retained position and influence throughout the South.
The latest, most notorious example of discrimination took place in the 1960s. Ray Charles originally signed up to perform at a segregated music hall. He later refused, and got sued.
About two decades later, his hit song “Georgia on My Mind” would become the state theme song. He also received a formal apology. Ray Charles understood the pain of discrimination, as an African-American growing up in the South. Today, he is one of the most celebrated entertainers, feted in a state which had more quickly embraced civil rights for all. Let us never forget that Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. called Georgia home before taking the Civil Rights Movement throughout the Deep South.
So, Georgia is blessed with an egalitarian legacy, and a history of stopping prejudice and expanding liberty for all.
Yet today, forces within and outside the state are contending that Georgia is returning to a state of discrimination. Why? Because legislators in Atlanta are taking the lead against rogue federal government once again. This time, they are thwarting the rogue Supreme Court, which chose to undermine the United States Constitution in order to redefine marriage.
This radical intrusion of the federal government into an eternal institution has set up Christians for persecution. Christian bakers, florists, and photographers have been forced to compromise their convictions, or close up shop. Judges have resigned their posts rather than officiate same-sex weddings, which would clearly violate their First Amendment freedom of religion.
And who can forget the Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who was incarcerated for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples? The institution of one man and one woman has withstood the tests of politics and culture. The liberty of man should not cave to these extralegal bullies either.
At least, that’s what the Georgia legislature thought. Their latest bill, HB 757, also billed as a “pastor protection bill”, would ensure protection for the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for all Georgians who do not wish to participate in same-sex promotional activities (baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, or officiating such a ceremony).
This bill is not discriminatory, but rather affirmatory, recognizing the freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience. Despite the basic—and even some claim watered-down—provisions of the legislation, major companies are threatening to boycott the state. Openly gay business owners in the state are preparing to move their operations to other “gay friendly states”.
To make matters more desperate, Governor has not signed off on the legislation, and even claimed that the intent of the bill was not Christ-like!
This hatred levelled at the wonderful state of Georgia today is both unfounded and offensive. The NFL, Disney, Hollywood, and other corporate interests have neither right nor power to dictate to you, me, or the great state of Georgia the extent to which we can exercise our First Amendment rights.
This fight is about more than about personal preferences. This legal, moral, and spiritual war is about protecting liberty: of commerce, speech, religion, and association.
If there is any call for tolerance, it should be directed toward homosexual activists. If there is need for restraint and respect, that demand should be directed toward Big Business trying to bully individuals.
My message to Governor Deal? Sign the Bill!
Help protect the First Amendment in Georgia (and ultimately your state!):
Tell Georgia’s Governor: “Here’s the deal: Sign HB 757!”
Email the Governor. Click here.
Call the Governor’s Office: (404) 656-1776
Write direct mail to the Governor:
Office of the Governor
206 Washington Street
111 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
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