·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Civil Rights

Georgia First Amendment Defense Act is Highly Discriminatory and Dangerous

— February 20, 2016

In a move reminiscent of something one would see in the 1950s, the Georgia Senate just passed a ridiculous piece of… legislation by a 38-14 vote. The Georgia First Amendment Defense Act is highly discriminatory and dangerous.

In a move reminiscent of something one would see in the 1950s, the Georgia Senate just passed a ridiculous piece of… legislation by a 38-14 vote. The Georgia First Amendment Defense Act is highly discriminatory and dangerous. The next step in this blow against basic human rights and dignity is to send the bill, known as FADA, back to the Georgia House. Given that a version of FADA already had unanimous approval in the House, it’s certain that it will pass again and be sent to Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal, possibly as early as Monday when the House reconvenes.

FADA is reminiscent of the numerous anti-LGBT bills promulgated in 2015 by bass-ackwards legislators who would like to see a return to a time when men were men, women were barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen and silent unless spoken to and anyone who stepped outside those boundaries was subject to censure and death threats. Guess what? I’m about to step outside those boundaries in a big way. For those who may be uncomfortable with that notion, I suggest a Xanax and a seat belt, because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride, y’all!

Just like the bullcrap in Indiana, where offended pizza makers refused to cater my big gay wedding to Brad Pitt (as if I’d serve pizza at my wedding!), FADA gives close-minded bigots the right to holler “I’m religiously offended!” when such actions are asked of them as baking a cake or allowing children to be adopted by loving parents who happen to share the same plumbing. Honestly, if FADA doesn’t p*ss you off, you’re not paying attention. Or, you might want to check your pulse, because you may be dead.

An organization, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, took a long look at FADA. Their conclusion is that FADA “allows any individual or ‘faith-based’ business, non-profit entity, or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage.”

Wait a minute! It’s not just about me and Brad tying the knot. FADA covers any marriage. Are you an interracial couple? An intergenerational couple? An LGBT couple? Divorced? Living together, but not married? Guess what, my friends? The throwback to the 50s that is FADA covers you, too! And it gets worse.

Senator Greg Kirk (lead photo), in explaining FADA before the vote on Friday, called this piece of… legislation a “live and let live bill.” He claimed it wouldn’t impact any business or the relationship between businesses and employees. I’m not sure what Kool-Aid Sen. Kirk is drinking, but he may want to cut back a bit.

Maggie Garrett, AU’s Legislative Director wrote a letter to Georgia Senators in which she explained just what could happen under FADA. In part, the letter reads:

“[A]ny person, business, or taxpayer-funded organization could refuse anyone else rights, services, and benefits because they: are part of an interracial couple; are part of an interfaith couple; are a single mother; are part of a same-sex couple; are divorced; are remarried; live or have lived with a partner without being married; or have had sex outside of marriage at any time in their life.”

Garrett went on to spell out a few very scary possible results of FADA:

“Just a few of the troubling real life consequences could include: a single mother and her child being denied safety at the domestic violence shelter; a hospital denying a man the opportunity to say goodbye to his dying husband; a cemetery corporation denying an interracial couple a shared cemetery plot; a restaurant refusing to allow a child’s birthday party because his parents are divorced; or an unmarried couple and their child being denied a room at a hotel late at night after their car broke down.”

Sen. Kirk and his GOP cronies moved quickly to endorse the bill at the initial hearing Friday. Their move prevented any amendments to FADA.

In response to concerned Senators, Kirk (also a minister) said that no one should be worried about religious organizations turning away LGBT people in need. He said, “I have never known a faith-based organization to turn anyone away. This law does not allow discrimination.”

Seriously. Cut back on the Kool-Aid.

Sen. Emanuel Jones
Sen. Emanuel Jones

Sen. Emanuel Jones, a Democrat who happens to be African American, pushed back, asking Sen. Kirk to clarify his definition of “faith-based organizations” under FADA. Sen. Jones rightly pointed out that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) meets Sen. Kirk’s definition. This prompted Sen. Kirk to compare the Black Panthers to the KKK.

Don’t just cut back on the Kool-Aid. Stop it completely!

Sen. Kirk expressed that he is totally fine with the fact that FADA would grant protections to hate groups such as the KKK. When Sen. Jones continued to question Sen. Kirk on the issue, he said, “We’re all familiar with the terms KKK, meaning the hate organization Ku Klux Klan.”

Sen. Kirk cautiously replied, “I’ve read about them, yes.”

Sen. Jones won the day with his reply. “Some of my heritage have done a lot more than just read about them. My concern is, couldn’t that organization if they chose to do so identify themselves as ‘faith based’?”

Sen. Kirk’s answer was less than comforting. He replied that he’s “not an attorney,” but that “I guess they could, Senator. I’m not sure.”

Sen. Jones pressed on, “So there’s nothing in your legislation that would stop them, is that correct?”

Sen. Kirk’s reply was chilling, “That’s right.”

Then Sen. Jones delivered the big question: “Does that present a problem for you, Senator?”

Sen. Kirk took a long pause then repeated the question as if asking for clarity. He finally answered it, saying, “No.”

He continued, “I’ve read about those groups,” but FADA “certainly isn’t directed towards them, it’s directed towards churches, towards ministers, and towards organizations that provide adoptions and organizations that provide help to the homeless, and so forth. It’s for equal protection as well.”

Yes, my friends, the ugly monster of discrimination in the name of what is supposed to be one of the most love-based religions ever to exist has reared its head again. Eventually, even if this remarkably idiotic piece of legislation is signed into law by Gov. Deal, someone will come along to challenge it. It will have to be someone with standing, i.e., someone who has legitimately been negatively impacted by FADA. The challenges will start at the district court level and, regardless of which party wins, will end up under appeal. Who knows? Perhaps the SCOTUS will step in to remind Georgia that it is still a part of the United States and, as such, is subject to the laws of the land. One such law being that certain discrimination based on orientation or marital status is a thing of the past.


Breaking: Georgia Senate Passes Discriminatory Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill By Huge Margin

Sponsor Of Georgia’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Has ‘No Problem’ Knowing It Would Protect The KKK

Join the conversation!