Ge­or­gia House Speaker: Punt ‘re­li­gious free­dom’ is­sue to Congress

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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:

EarthLink Inc.

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.”

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