So-called First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia goes far beyond protecting the rights already established in the First Amendment and would promote state taxpayer-funded discrimination
WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, blasted outrageous legislation introduced in the Georgia State Senate by anti-LGBT Republican Senator Greg Kirk. The so-called First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia would go far beyond protecting the right to practice one’s religion – already firmly established in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – and would promote state taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their families in Georgia.
“Freedom of religion is important. That’s why it is already fully protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Fair-minded Georgians must not be fooled by Rep. Kirk’s despicable attempt to mask discrimination against LGBT Georgians and their families with religious freedom. This reckless legislation would have dangerous and far reaching consequences by allowing state government officials to discriminate against same-sex couples and their families.”
The dangerous legislation goes far beyond protecting the right of free exercise of one’s religion. While falsely framed as prohibiting the state government from making funding or tax status decisions based on an organization’s views on marriage that are driven by religious belief, in reality it threatens to create a breakdown of state government services, opening the door to discrimination against same-sex couples, their families, and those who love them. With salaries paid for by Georgia taxpayers, state employees would be enabled to refuse to fully perform their duties if they claim they conflict with their objection to marriage equality. It is important to note that no religious organization or clergy is required to sanction or perform same-sex marriage under any federal or state law.
Working to stop such reckless and discriminatory legislation, HRC is proud to be fighting alongside local advocates in Georgia Unites Against Discrimination – a joint project of HRC and Georgia Equality dedicated to protecting LGBT Georgians from discrimination and ensuring that individuals and businesses aren’t able to use their religious beliefs to harm others.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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