Gov. Deal backpedals on ‘religious freedom’ bill anti-discrimination demand
Gov. Nathan Deal is backpedaling on a vow to include anti-discrimination language in any so-called “religious freedom” bill proposed in Georgia.
In a May 20 interview with WABE, Deal said that such language “may not be necessary” according to a transcript provided by the station.
He went on to indicate he would support a bill that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 1993, saying, “It has not been necessary in the original federal version of the statute, so hopefully if we have something that’s a replication of the federal statute, that language may not be necessary.”
Following the bill’s failure in the legislature this year, Deal immediately did a series of interviews in which he vowed to take the reins on the issue, and said he would push for a bill that included the anti-discrimination clause.
It marked a line in the sand between Deal and Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), SB 129’s sponsor, who is on a mission to keep anti-discrimination language out of his bill.
At the state GOP convention on May 16, delegates voted in favor of a “religious freedom” bill without the anti-discrimination clause, despite the emergence of a group called Georgia Republicans for the Future, which ran ads in favor of the clause.
Court finds city in contempt for not implementing police trainings mandated after Eagle raid
A federal judge has found the city of Atlanta in contempt of court and imposed numerous sanctions for the city’s failure to properly train police officers as mandated in a lawsuit settlement following the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle in 2009.
The sanctions include paying nearly $50,000 in attorney fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Dan Grossman, Gerald Weber of the Southern Center for Human Rights, Greg Nevins and Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal and Albert Wan.
“Making sure that APD is trusted and accountable should be a top priority for the City, not something that judges are forced to twist arms to make happen. These reforms make law enforcement better,” said Weber in a prepared statement.
In 2010, the city settled with patrons of the Atlanta Eagle, a Midtown gay bar, for $1 million. As part of that settlement, the city promised to properly train officers on such procedures as the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizures; wearing visible name tags at all times; prohibiting officers from interfering with the public’s right to photograph, videotape and make audio recordings of police activity; documenting warrantless detentions, frisks, and searches; and requiring the APD to rule on citizen complaints of police misconduct within 180 days.
Judge rules Lambda Legal can file brief on behalf of city in anti-gay Atlanta fire chief lawsuit
A federal judge ruled Monday that Lambda Legal has the right to file an amicus brief on behalf of the city of Atlanta in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by anti-gay fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who claims he was fired for his religious beliefs.
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May stated the brief Lambda Legal filed on April 3 is valid, despite attorneys for Cochran taking issue with Lambda Legal calling Cochran a misogynist.
In its amicus brief, Lambda Legal says the government is allowed to fire employees, including supervisors, who publicly humiliate a group of people.
Attorneys for Cochran argued, in their own April 17 brief, against allowing Lambda Legal to file its brief, stating, among other things, that Lambda Legal should not be able to file the brief because the LGBT legal advocacy group stated Cochran is a “misogynist.”
Mayor Kasim Reed fired Cochran on Jan. 6 after a 30-day suspension. Reed said Cochran did not follow city policy when he wrote and published a book titled, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” In return, Cochran is suing the city and Mayor Reed, saying his constitutional right to free speech was violated when he was fired.
Georgia GOP elects openly gay party leader at convention
Georgia Republicans elected an openly gay man to their leadership team for the first time, and his nomination came courtesy of the author of a so-called “religious freedom” bill. The election occurred at the party’s statewide convention on May 16 in Athens.
State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), author of SB 129, the “religious freedom” bill that failed in this year’s legislative session, nominated openly gay tax attorney Mansell McCord as treasurer of the state Republican Party.
“You need a man of unimpeachable integrity. You need someone who understands the complexity of campaign finance law,” McKoon told delegates, according to the AJC. “And you need someone who has been dedicated to the conservative movement for decades.”
McCord is a longtime GOP activist, has served as the executive director of Republican Leadership for Georgia for the past six years and is a former chairman of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans.
But it’s unclear if many of the 770 delegates who voted for McCord realized they were electing a gay man, with many reportedly assuming that Debbie McCord, who was on the ballot and was elected second vice-chairman, was Mr. McCord’s wife. There is no relation.
A federal judge ruled that Lambda Legal has the right to file an amicus brief on behalf of the city of Atlanta in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by anti-gay fire chief Kelvin Cochran. (Photo via Alliance Defending Freedom)