‘Re­li­gious free­dom’ bill au­thor crit­i­cizes Ge­or­gia LGBT rights group

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In a re­cently un­earthed video, state Sen. Josh McK­oon (R-Colum­bus), au­thor of a so­called “re­li­gious free­dom” bill that has failed in the state leg­is­la­ture for two years run­ning, blamed the “lib­eral, far-left cul­tural norms” of multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions head­quar­tered in Ge­or­gia for the bill’s trou­bles, and down­played the role of LGBT and pro­gres­sive groups.

“The Ge­or­gia Equal­i­ties of the world and Bet­ter Ge­or­gia—they don’t get a whole lot done at the Leg­is­la­ture. So why is it that we’ve had this prob­lem?” McK­oon asks in the video of an Aug. 15 Pauld­ing County GOP gath­er­ing, posted to the in­ter­net on Aug. 22.

“We’ve had this prob­lem be­cause very large multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions that are head­quar­tered in this state—their ex­ec­u­tives, many of whom are not from Ge­or­gia, have dif­fer­ent val­ues than you and I do,” he con­tin­ues. “They think that their cul­tural norms, their lib­eral, far-left cul­tural norms, should be ap­plied to our state. They think that they ought to be able to use the awe­some power of gov­ern­ment to do that. And that is why we have had the prob­lem that we’ve had.

“When you have the CEO of Delta Air Lines say­ing that re­li­gious free­dom is not in line with his com­pany’s val­ues, we’ve got a se­ri­ous dis­con­nect. We’ve got a se­ri­ous prob­lem.

“When you start telling me that our in­di­vid­ual civil lib­er­ties are some­how a busi­ness is­sue, we’re go­ing to have a se­ri­ous prob­lem.”

Ge­or­gia Equal­ity is the statewide LGBT ad­vo­cacy group that has been a steady pres­ence in the fight against the bill. Bet­ter Ge­or­gia is the pro­gres­sive group led by the openly gay Bryan Long that’s also been a fierce critic of the bill.

“Dis­crim­i­na­tion is wrong. Sen. McK­oon’s bill is wrong. And his un­der­stand­ing of Ge­or­gia’s val­ues is wrong,” said Long in a state­ment to Ge­or­gia Voice.

Amanda Hill-At­tkisson, deputy di­rec­tor of Ge­or­gia Equal­ity, tells Ge­or­gia Voice, “McK­oon has been un­able to pass his bill be­cause it opens the door as a li­cense to dis­crim­i­nate. Lo­cal Ge­or­gia busi­nesses and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions are smart enough to know that to at­tract the best tal­ent and strong­est work­force that dis­crim­i­na­tion in any form is un­ac­cept­able. And be­cause Ge­or­gia doesn’t have any nondis­crim­i­na­tion laws in place, that makes this bill even more prob­lem­atic.

“Ob­vi­ously, we work ex­tremely hard to make sure that LGBT com­mu­ni­ties are pro­tected and we’ll con­tinue to work down at the leg­is­la­ture to make sure bad poli­cies are not passed.”

LGBT ac­tivists and sup­port­ers gath­ered in down­town At­lanta to call at­ten­tion to a rash of anti-trans­gen­der vi­o­lence. (Photo by Pa­trick Saun­ders)

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