The Republicans in the Georgia House and Senate authored and passed a bill which would protect the citizens of Georgia from being forced to affirm and participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, as has happened in other states like Washington (florist), New Mexico (photographer), Oregon (baker) and New York (property owner).
The bill went to the governor’s desk, and he vetoed it – siding with the big corporations and the gay activists.
The Washington Times reports:
The influence of the entertainment and business lobbies were powerfully felt Monday when Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal knuckled under to a tidal wave of pressure by vetoing a religious liberty bill.
[…]He vetoed the bill after several major corporations, including Walt Disney Co., the National Football League and Intel, made clear that it would impair their ability to do business in Georgia.
A spokesman for Disney… said the company would “plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.”
The NFL hinted that the measure could threaten any Atlanta bid to host a Super Bowl. Other companies that urged Mr. Deal to veto the legislation included Apple, Time Warner and Salesforce.
The bill that was vetoed was re-written to remove almost all the religious protections in the original bill.
Just as an aside, big corporations are also threatening North Carolina for preventing men from using women’s washrooms, and vice versa:
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has invited the censure of several blue-chip corporations by signing into law a bill that says sex-specific public restrooms and changing facilities must be used according to biological sex, not a person’s preferred gender identification.
The bill was passed in a single-day special session to strike down a Charlotte city ordinance to the contrary and prevent any other local government from following suit.
[…]Several companies based in North Carolina, such as PayPal, Bank of America and Dow Chemical have denounced the law, while the National Basketball Association is threatening to move the 2017 All-Star Game, now scheduled to be played in Charlotte, in the wake of the legislation.
This is the 4th time that a state has backed off of defending religious liberty against the gay rights activists who put the right of gay people not to be offended above the right of religious people not to violate their conscience by performing actions that they believe are immoral. It happened before in Indiana, Arizona and Arkansas, and now Georgia.
I found two great articles by two articulate defenders of religious liberty, David French and Ryan T. Anderson, to respond to Deal’s decision.
Ryan T. Anderson at the Daily Signal:
The bill that the Deal vetoed was the result of a series of compromises that significantly watered down the original version. It did not offer protections to bakers, florists and similar wedding professionals, and it adopted a very narrow definition of faith-based organizations, covering only churches, religious schools, and “integrated auxiliaries”—the same unacceptable definition used by the Obama administration to exclude the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Yet liberals demagogued these very limited protections—and got the governor to veto it.
David French at National Review:
The Georgia bill that Deal refused to defend was modest in scope, protecting the right of clergy to solemnize marriages consistent with their religious beliefs, protecting the right of faith-based institutions to use their property and resources to advance their religious mission, protecting their rights to hire and fire employees on grounds consistent with religious belief and practice, and protecting a person’s free exercise of religion from a “substantial burden” unless the protected person was engaged in “invidious discrimination on any grounds prohibited by federal or state law.”
In other words, the bill as drafted could not be used to “bring back Jim Crow,” nor could it offer any person, outside clergy and faith-based employers, any effective defense against the enforcement of state anti-discrimination laws. It wouldn’t block a single gay marriage. It wouldn’t deny a single gay person access to the marketplace. Instead, it would merely offer a bare minimum of legal protections to Georgia citizens who are already confronting anti-Christian bigotry and discrimination.
That small amount of protection was too much not only for Apple, Disney, Salesforce.com, and a host of multinational corporations who are quite comfortable doing business in places like the People’s Republic of China and Saudi Arabia.
French has a solution to the problem of Republican leaders siding with corporations over the people who elected them:
Donald Trump, of course, has probably given less than nine seconds of thought to religious liberty. He’s been too busying enjoying the full benefits of the sexual revolution to think even for a moment about the conflict between sexual hedonism and religious freedom. Ted Cruz, however, has been stalwart in defense of the faithful. He is the anti-establishment politician who actually understands the role of faith in our national history and culture and understands the direct threat from the “social justice” left. Cruz would call Disney’s bluff.
Indeed, and I wrote about Cruz’s strength on the religious liberty issue. If this is your issue, then Cruz is your candidate.
There is supposedly a First Amendment right in this country that protects religious liberty and conscience from coercion and threats. There is no such protection in Constitution from being “offended” when someone disagrees with you on a moral question.
So what do we learn from this? What I learned is that I need to start thinking about states to live in where I can find a way to work and earn money without having to have my conscience violated by people who think that their views on moral issues are so correct that they need to force me to agree with them using fines and imprisonment. And it’s clear from the past that the correct state will be a state where there is a conservative governor, a conservative House and Senate, and no big multinational corporations who cave in to the demands of gay rights lobbying groups like the Human Rights Campaign. Indiana, Georgia, Arizona and Arkansas are off my list. Especially Georgia.