Georgia Peaches a Fit over Religious Freedom Bill
By Tony Perkins
Same-sex “marriage” is tying the knot — right around Christians’ freedoms. While the Left cries “discrimination” for their cause, grandmas like Baronnelle Stutzman are actually the victims of it. Out in Washington State, the long-time shop owner could lose her home just for telling two men that she’d be happy to sell them flowers but couldn’t — in good conscience — arrange them for a ceremony that violated her faith.
And she isn’t alone. The clash between religious liberty and same-sex “marriage” continues to explode in businesses across America, where shop owners, B&Bs, and other vendors try to come to grips with the government’s twisted definition of “tolerance.” Faced with losing their jobs, businesses, and life savings, most Christians want to know: isn’t there anything we can do?
There is. In at least 10 states, conservatives are fighting back with a string of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Although each state’s may vary, the bottom line is that they give men and women of all faiths a powerful tool to stop the government from walking all over their beliefs on issues like marriage and sexuality. If Washington State had a RFRA, for example, Baronnelle Stutzman would actually have legal grounds for beating back the government’s attack on her store.
In Georgia, where Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was sacked for writing a book about biblical morality, he could have filed a federal RFRA complaint in his lawsuit. But he couldn’t, because Georgia hasn’t passed the measure. But it isn’t for lack of trying. Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon has been working around-the-clock to get his RFRA through the legislature, which became inordinately more difficult this week when his own party sabotaged it. When McKoon stopped the Judiciary Committee from watering down the bill, Republican Majority Leader Bill Cowsert shocked everyone by ambushing SB 129.
A stunned McKoon, who assumed he had the Majority Leader’s support, watched yesterday as Cowsert voted with Democrats to table the measure — postponing protections that people like Kelvin Cochran need now. “I wanted to make clear that the government does have a compelling state interest to prevent discrimination…” Cowsert tried to explain later. Obviously, the Majority Leader has bought into the ridiculous propaganda that RFRAs somehow excuse real prejudice. “This goes back to the civil rights, where (blacks) were turned down because of the color of their skin,” say one gay activist. “Now you want to create legislation because you want to turn down a service to someone because they’re gay, straight or transgender?”
That is “100-percent not true,” McKoon fired back. “The critics of this legislation are using it to scare very good people, to try and raise money for their radical, far-left agendas. Thirty states have this legislation in place, the federal government has had this legislation in place for two decades, and the opponents can’t cite to a single case of discrimination that has been shielded by a religious liberty defense.”
In reality, nothing about this bill is controversial. If the Left weren’t so dead-set on crushing people’s freedom to live in accordance with their moral beliefs, it wouldn’t even be necessary (thanks to a little thing called the First Amendment). “I’m certainly disappointed (that) people who are in the same political party would vote to stop legislation that people in the Republican Party clearly want us to move forward on,” McKoon told reporters.
But he isn’t giving up — and neither should we. The bill is still alive and could be revived as soon as next week. If you want to help these small businesses and public servants live out their faith as the Founders intended, contact Georgia State Senator Cowsert. Tell him to support the legislation and stop trying to kill it with poison pills: (404) 463-1366.
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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