Being a two-time loser has made Josh McKoon bitter. So the daddy of the controversial anti-gay "religious freedom" movement in the Georgia Legislature is espousing a scorched earth policy to get his bill passed next year.
He attacked an LGBT equality group (Georgia Equality), a progressive group nipping at his heels (Better Georgia) and a gay-friendly corporation (Delta Air Lines) for opposing his state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The same bill that roiled the State Capitol earlier this year, split even Republicans, drew the ire of business leaders and prompted rallies on both sides.
"Why has it been so controversial? Why has it been so difficult to try and get it passed? Next year will be the third legislative session that we've been trying to pass this bill," McKoon says. "And the truth is there's been a lot of opposition from far-left groups, from LGBT groups like Georgia Equality. The things they say about the legislation are pretty easily proven wrong. They are easy to knock down. People say that it is a license to discriminate. Federal RFRA has been around for 22 years."
But wait, he's just getting warmed up in his Aug. 15 comments to the Paulding County Republican Party. Thankfully, the address was posted to YouTube so every last drop can be savored.
"The only way this bill comes into the area of discrimination is it keeps the government from discriminating against people of faith and that is what it is designed to do. But that's not the opposition that's held us up in the legislature. I am here to tell 'ya the Georgia Equalities of the world and Better Georgia, they don't get a whole lot done at the legislature," McKoon says.
'Liberal far-left cultural norms'
Slight to the gays and progressives delivered, he attacks Delta, the Atlanta-based company that quietly opposed his legislation this year – and was smacked down by conservative lawmakers for it – and whose CEO Richard Anderson more forcefully opposed it in 2014.
"We've had this problem because very large multinational corporations that are headquartered in this state – their executives, many of whom are not from Georgia, have different values than you and I do. They think that what their cultural norms, their liberal far-left cultural norms, should be applied to our state. They think they ought to be able to use the awesome power of government to do that. And that is why we have had the problem that we've had," McKoon says.
And he goes in for the kill.
"When you have the CEO of Delta Air Lines saying that religious freedom is not in line with his company's values, we've got a serious disconnect. We've got a serious problem," McKoon says. "When you start telling me that our individual civil liberties are somehow a business issue, we're going to have a serious problem."
But wait, McKoon adds. It's not that his "religious freedom" bill is a license to discriminate against LGBT people or a gateway to upending non-discrimination ordinances in place in cities across Georgia. It's that if his legislation loses for a third time, then the gays and their progressive allies will come for your guns next. Yes, the guns.
"If you allow people to come in and say you know, McKoon's religious freedom bill, that's bad for business and you allow that to keep us from moving forward on it, I guarantee you in the next year or two, we are going to be having the same conversation except that someone is going to be saying you know, this company from New Jersey or New York, they'd love to come move to Georgia but our gun laws are just way out there. It's way too easy to get a gun in Georgia," McKoon said.
Willing to lose Super Bowl over bill
But the Columbus Republican wasn't done. He also criticized Mayor Kasim Reed – a vocal opponent of the legislation – and said he'd be fine if passing his "religious freedom" bill meant that Atlanta would lose a potential Super Bowl bid.
"The way this is going to play out next year, I can guarantee you, is people are going to say it's bad for business. We don't need to do this because it's bad for business. Last year it was about discrimination and now that we've knocked that down, next year it's going to be it's bad for business," McKoon said.
"Don't let anybody tell you this is anti-economic development because it is not. And you know what, the mayor of Atlanta said we might lose the Super Bowl if we pass the religious freedom bill. Well let me tell you what, when our founders signed the Declaration of Independence, you know they were potentially signing their death warrant. They knew that. They were willing to lose their lives over the principle of religious freedom. So yes I would be willing to lose a football game if that's what it came to. But I don't believe that would happen because every other major NFL venue is covered by a religious freedom bill," McKoon said.
So there you go. Death, guns, "religious freedom" and how the gays threaten all of that. Meet Josh McKoon, Georgia's new RFRA martyr.
Want to see his circus act live? You can next month when he speaks to "average folks" during the Defending Our Religious Liberties Seminar in Lilburn. It's going to be a hootenanny of gay haters.