House bill to protect clergy from performing same-sex weddings
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.”