Georgia’s RFRA to Be Heard By A House Judiciary Subcommittee Tuesday

Senate Bill 129, the Religious Liberty Bill, will have a hearing by a special subcommittee of the Judiciary – Civil committee on Tuesday at 2 PM, according to a meeting agenda posted this afternoon on the House electronic calendar by Rep. Wendell Willard. It is unknown whether the committee will take a vote on the measure, however.

The announcement comes after House Speaker David Ralston addressed the issue at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon earlier today. Calling the final days of the 2016 legislative session the Capitol’s version of March Madness, the Speaker touched on a number of topics in his half-hour address, but perhaps the most newsworthy were his remarks on the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Saying he doesn’t take the concept of religious freedom lightly, Ralston said he was listening to people promoting the bill, along with those who fear that the bill will lead to discrimination against homosexuals. In addition to the personal nature of the bill and its impact, Ralston stressed the need to understand the impact of the legislation on the rule of law, and if there would be any unintended consequences the legislation would bring about.

The Speaker denounced the amount of misinformation that was being spread about the bill, and he decried the “self professed thought leaders” who “profit from relevance and attention.” Saying he had no interest in rushing to a decision in order to coddle the overinflated egos of a few, he urged everyone involved to take a deep breath.

Just as he said about the individuals who criticized transportation funding proposals without offering any alternatives, Ralston indicated that he had no time for those who practiced the politics of personal destruction. Yet, he welcomes those who value inclusive discussion.

Saying he is a born again Christian, Ralston rounded out his discussion of the issue with a quote from Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together…”


  1. blakeage80 says:

    If only Isaiah 1 was referring to two equal parties talking out their differences, it would be applicable.

    • benevolus says:

      Interesting that verse 17 says “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

    • Ghost of William F. Buckley says:

      Rep. Willard’s special Sub Committee will thoughtfully hear all sides, and that will be that. This Committee demonstrated their regard for the LAW as paramount, in the past, on equally thorny, vox populi driven Bills.

      The Speaker is wise and politic, thank you, Speaker Ralston and Rep, Willard, courage is bolstered at law.

  2. Still don’t understand how RFRA impacts public accomodation laws, since that seems to be the one area that could defend private citizens against gays who have been denied a public accomodation (or service).

    Also, if you made sex[ual orientation] a protected class, wouldn’t RFRA then make sense?

    • Jon Richards says:

      Right now in Georgia, several cities have enacted laws offering protections to gays. There is no comparable state law. I hear the fear some have is that a judge hearing a RFRA complaint from someone in one of those cities who didn’t want to serve gays would in essence overturn the local law because state law doesn’t offer the same protections.

      And yes, making sexual orientation / gender identity a protected class in Georgia would make RFRA claims much harder to win. However, I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks this is an achievable goal in the short to mid term. That’s why the effort has been concentrated in cities and counties rather than statewide.

      • John Konop says:

        I also think the manner in which the McKoon goon squad attacked office holders on this issue, demonstrated a lack of maturity by Senator McKoon. Agree or not with Speaker Ralston…he is acting like a thoughtful adult leader. For Senator Mckoon to not support his fellow officeholders via attacks must rational people agree are way over the line… flat out wrong.Basically, what the Mckoon/ Erickson message is agree with me or you are not a Christian. Mckoon could of put out a statement against attacks like this…

  3. saltycracker says:

    How is all this going to effect my Wicca friend with 37 piercings being turned away from her dream job at the local kiddie kennel ?

    • benevolus says:

      If she was turned away because of her religion and because the proprietor did it to protect his own religious beliefs it would be a matter of who could hire the best lawyer.

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