By Tony Perkins
If producers were looking for a new primetime drama, the debate over Georgia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act would qualify. After eleventh hour negotiations and on-again, off-again headlines, Republicans yesterday snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Inches away from sending the RFRA bill to the full committee for a vote (one of the final hurdles between RFRA and passage), one of the members on the Judiciary Committee offered an amendment to gut the bill that the body had just rebuilt. And it passed — stunning the committee and forcing the legislation onto life support before the state house adjourns. RedState’s Erick Erickson, a Georgian, has been following the debate as close as anyone and was irate — as most conservatives were — by what they saw. “They saved RFRA in a subcommittee only to kill it in full committee… This is a serious betrayal.”
And a sudden one. We were ready to push “send” on the Update yesterday cheering the developments, when the news hit D.C. that Republicans had rolled back all of the language that would have made RFRA meaningful. With the Left bearing down on members, it was difficult to land on a proposal that would legitimately protect businesses run by Christians from the fates of Barronelle Stuzman, Aaron and Melissa Klein, and Courtney Schmackers — as well as other believers like Dr. Eric Walsh with natural beliefs on marriage and sexuality. Now, the very law that could have helped these men and women, is temporarily sunk — and time is ticking down to do anything about it.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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