Georgia Republicans are not the most honorable humans on the planet. In fact, I’m pretty sure that anything “honorable” left Georgia well before General Sherman burned it to the ground. And while they’ve used plenty of sneaky and duplicitous methods over the years to get their way, this might just be one of the dirtiest.
Think Progress reports that Georgia Republicans managed to push through the “License to Discriminate” bill while the only Democrat on the committee was out during a bathroom break.
The bill in question is one of those “Religious Freedom” bills — you know the type. Michigan has one pending. They allow you to discriminate against people you disagree with, because in the Republican mind, discrimination and prejudice are exactly the same thing as “religious freedom.” The bill, S.B. 129, is modeled after the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and authored by Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee chair, Josh McKoon (R-Columbus).
Democrat Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) opposed the bill, and tabled the proposed legislation when it was brought up to the committee last week.
These things die like a zombie apocalypse, though. After several hours of deliberations at Monday’s committee meeting, Fort asked McKoon if they could pause so that he could use the bathroom. McKoon obliged, and while the Democrat vanished off to the restrooms, the rest of the committee pushed the bill through.
By the time a staffer notified other Democrats and they were able to get to there, the damage was done: McKoon and his committee, which consisted entirely of Republicans, passed the bill.
Fort told the Constitution that “[McKoon] knew I was going to come back. It seems to me the right thing would have been to delay the vote until all the members who had appeared at the committee were in the room.”
These people are pushing a bill that would legalize discrimination. Why the do you think they care about what’s “right” or “moral?”
This bill has a long and storied history, and this backstabbing tactic is just one in a long line of tactics that goes to show how far our democracy has been compromised by the hateful religious cancer that’s eating the right-wing:
The committee’s cloak and dagger shenanigans are but the latest act in an ongoing drama surrounding the “religious liberty” bill, which parallels a similar proposal currently moving through the state house. LGBT rights advocates and clergy in Georgia have blasted both bills as unfairly biased and potentially dangerous to minority groups, as have unlikely allies such as former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers. Bowers, who once supported anti-gay policies in the Peach State, held a press conference last week to denounce the proposed laws as “nothing but an excuse to discriminate.” Georgia Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) even tried to change the senate bill to limit its potential to discriminate, proposing an amendment last month that would require the government “to state clearly that [it has] a compelling interest in protecting children from abuse and neglect and to prevent unlawful discrimination.”
When the bill was forced through the committee on Monday, however, Cowsert — who was criticized by religious conservatives for his attempt to defang the bill — said he was “satisfied” with the bill without the amendment.
The bill was passed by the Senate today, with a vote of 37 to 15, and will move to the State House as its next test. While addressing the bill, Ford — who’s hopefully learned that you can’t trust Republicans now — said that the bill “creates a vehicle for people to cloak discrimination and perhaps even criminal activity under the guise of religious freedom” and that it would “gut what few protections LGBT persons have in this state,” allowing property owners to refuse housing to LGBT tenants, and allow court clerks to deny issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Here’s to hoping that, if this gets passed, the state of Georgia goes bankrupt trying to defend itself from a Biblical Deluge of lawsuits.