Georgia House Speaker: Punt ‘religious freedom’ issue to Congress
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston says that the state should avoid another fight over the “religious freedom” issue and let Congress take on the issue.
The comments came in a Dec. 2 appearance on GPB’s “Political Rewind,” where Ralston addressed the likelihood of taking on the issue for a fourth straight year when the next legislative session begins in January.
“I think it is a federal issue, so I’m very content to let them deal with it. I don’t hear much discussion about it,” Ralston said. “There was a lot of concern in the period of time right after the veto, but I think as people have kind of stepped back and taken a look at it, I think they realize that it’s a little more complex and has dimensions that you might not expect when you flash up the words ‘religious freedom’ or ‘religious liberty.’ Because, you know, we all believe in that….
“So I think it would be healthy for the Congress to have a debate, and let’s see what they do….”
Ralston also pointed to the example of Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who lost reelection last month mainly due to his support for the anti-LGBT law House Bill 2, which restricted use of public bathrooms by transgender people and ended the power of local governments to enact LGBT protections.
“Look at North Carolina…I don’t think many Republicans in North Carolina lost on general Election Day. I think he was the only one,” Ralston said. “Governor McCrory certainly became Exhibit A on this issue. They’ve had a lot of fallout from their decision to adopt a similar measure up there. Frankly, it would be irresponsible of us to ignore that.”
State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), a vocal backer of “religious freedom” legislation, disagreed with Ralston, telling 11Alive that he considers it “a priority” in the next session.
“I certainly intend to prosecute the case for this vigorously in this legislative session,” McKoon said. “And if we don’t get anything done in 2017, my goal is that any candidate for governor of this state, I hope one of the first questions people...ask them is, what’s your position on religious freedom?”
The anti-LGBT House Bill 757 passed both chambers of the Georgia Legislature earlier this year but Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it.
15 Atlanta companies get perfect scores on LGBT equality index
The Human Rights Campaign released their annual Corporate Equality Index on Dec. 5, and of the 29 Georgia companies evaluated by HRC, 15 notched perfect scores, 16 earned 90 percent and above, and 17 earned 80 percent and above. The 15 companies with perfect 100s were: Delta Air Lines Inc. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta First Data Corp. SunTrust Banks Inc. NCR Corp. Southern Co. Coca-Cola Co., The InterContinental Hotels Group Americas Alston & Bird LLP Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP King & Spalding LLP Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP Troutman Sanders LLP United Parcel Service Inc. Home Depot Inc., The
There were 9 companies that scored 40 or below, including:
Genuine Parts Co. and ARRIS Group were the only two companies to get a zero.
Nationally, a record 517 businesses earned a top score of 100 percent and the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”
HRC President Chad Griffin issued a statement in reaction to the scores, saying, “Even in the face of relentless attempts to undermine equality, America’s leading companies and law firms remain steadfast and committed to supporting and defending the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people. The unprecedented expansion of inclusive workplaces across the country and around the globe not only reflects our progress, it helps drive it. As we enter a new chapter in our fight for equality, support from the business community will be more critical than ever to protect our historic advancements over the last decade and to continue to push equality forward for workers, customers, and families around the world.”