House bill to pro­tect clergy from per­form­ing same-sex wed­dings

GA Voice - - News Briefs -

Last sum­mer, House Speaker David Ral­ston (R-Blue Ridge) told fel­low House Repub­li­cans that he wanted to adopt a pas­tor’s “Pro­tec­tion Act” that would en­sure no faith leader could be forced to per­form a same-sex wed­ding. On Jan. 13 he got his wish, as state Rep. Kevin Tan­ner (R-Daw­sonville) in­tro­duced House Bill 757.

The only sec­tion rais­ing eye­brows is Sec­tion 3, which says in part, “No religious or­ga­ni­za­tion shall be re­quired to rent, lease, or oth­er­wise grant per­mis­sion for prop­erty to be used by an­other per­son for pur­poses which are ob­jec­tion­able to such religious or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

The bill is seen by many as an al­ter­na­tive to Josh McKoon’s so-called “religious free­dom” bill, SB 129, which has proved far more con­tro­ver­sial. Ge­or­gia Pol’s Jon Richards says a quick pas­sage of the mea­sure in the House is ex­pected, al­though what hap­pens to it in the Se­nate is more un­cer­tain.

Anti-gay busi­nesses get pro­tec­tions un­der newly pro­posed bill

State Rep. Kevin Tan­ner (R-Daw­sonville) has in­tro­duced House Bill 756, which would al­low busi­ness own­ers to refuse ser­vice to same-sex cou­ples.

The AJC re­ports: “Florists, bak­ers or any other pri­vate busi­ness owner could refuse ser­vice to gay cou­ples get­ting mar­ried in Ge­or­gia, un­der leg­is­la­tion filed Wed­nes­day (Jan. 13) that is likely to in­flame the bat­tle at the Capi­tol over religious free­dom and gay rights.

House Bill 756 would al­low busi­ness own­ers to cite religious be­liefs in re­fus­ing goods or ser­vices for a ‘mat­ri­mo­nial cer­e­mony’—a blunt as­sess­ment of con­ser­va­tives’ out­rage af­ter the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June state pro­hi­bi­tions on same-sex mar­riage to be un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The bill rep­re­sents the worst fears of gay rights ad­vo­cates and oth­ers who have fought the last two years against other so-called ‘religious lib­erty leg­is­la­tion.’”

Openly gay man chal­leng­ing Rep. Mable Thomas in GA race

A third can­di­date has joined Rafer John­son and Josh Noblitt to try to be­come the first openly gay man elected to the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture. Mar­ck­eith DeJe­sus, a 37-year-old cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial coun­selor for North­side Hos­pi­tal, will chal­lenge in­cum­bent Mable State Rep. Kevin Tan­ner (R-Daw­sonville) in­tro­duced two anti-gay bills in the House on Jan. 13. (File photo) Thomas in the House District 56 pri­mary on May 24.

DeJe­sus, a political new­comer, says he was mo­ti­vated to run af­ter the U.S. Supreme Court struck down same-sex mar­riage bans na­tion­wide last sum­mer.

“That re­ally made my heart de­light­ful and ex­tremely ex­cited about the fu­ture for us as LGBT per­sons,” he tells Ge­or­gia Voice in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

While there’s no Ge­or­gia law against same-sex adop­tion, DeJe­sus sees a place for leg­is­la­tion strength­en­ing those rights for LGBT peo­ple.

“That’s still kind of a gray area where un­for­tu­nately I be­lieve that there’s still a lot of dis­crim­i­na­tion out there,” he says. “We need a bill to be drafted to al­low LGBT per­sons to be able to adopt and to do so with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

He also lists more preven­tion and care for peo­ple liv­ing with HIV, a com­pre­hen­sive nondis­crim­i­na­tion law to pro­tect LGBT in­di­vid­u­als and en­act­ment of a hate crimes law as other is­sues he plans on ad­dress­ing if elected.

An­other gay can­di­date jumps into Ge­or­gia House District 62 race

The race to re­place state Rep. Ladawn Black­ett Jones in House District 62 just got more in­ter­est­ing, as Ge­or­gia Voice has learned that les­bian fam­ily law at­tor­ney Va­lerie Vie has jumped in, join­ing gay flight at­ten­dant and com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate Rafer John­son and three other can­di­dates. The five Democrats will face off in a May 24 pri­mary.

Vie lists education, in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage and city­hood as the ma­jor is­sues of her cam­paign, along with her op­po­si­tion to Se­nate Bill 129, state Sen. Josh McKoon’s (R-Colum­bus) so-called “religious free­dom” bill.

Vie says the fact that she’d be fac­ing off against an­other gay can­di­date didn’t cause her any hes­i­ta­tion about jump­ing into the race.

“I don’t think that this race is go­ing to be run by who’s gay and who’s straight,” she says. “I think it’s go­ing to be run by who presents the is­sues ob­jec­tively, and I’m not sure ev­ery­one feels that the plans or the po­si­tions have been pro­jected ob­jec­tively and that’s what I want to do.”

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