Face of ‘religious freedom’ effort to lead Georgia anti-LGBTQ group

State Sen. Josh Mckoon has been tapped to lead the Georgia chapter of a conservative Christian organization that opposes marriage equality and supports anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” legislation. The move will allow McKoon to continue his years-long fight for the legislation after he leaves office.

The group – the Faith & Freedom Coalition – was founded in 2009 by Ralph Reed, the former chair of the Georgia Republican Party who touted the group as “a Christian Coalition 2.0.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the Georgia chapter of the Faith & Freedom Coalition as executive director to build on the phenomenal work of Dave Baker,” McKoon said in a statement, according to the AJC. “This role will allow me to continue to speak out on issues I am passionate about while building a strong grassroots coalition of people of faith across Georgia. I am grateful to Virginia Galloway, Robert Barker, and the Georgia FFC Board for giving me this opportunity.”

Galloway is the Duluth-based former Tea Party activist who joined the Faith & Freedom Coalition as regional field director in 2014. She criticized Coke for coming out against “religious freedom” bills, was okay with the Georgia GOP having a gay leader because “he doesn’t make a big deal out of it,” had harsh words for Fulton County for preparing for marriage equality in 2015, spoke out for “religious freedom” bills before a Georgia Senate panel, was “sick and beyond disappointed” by Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a “religious freedom” bill and spoke out against an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crime bill before a Georgia House panel.

In January, Galloway said she and other supporters of “religious freedom” legislation aren’t done fighting.

“We’re not going away. We’re not going to say, ‘Oh darn, we lost our religious freedoms,’” Galloway told the AJC. “This could be one of the issues that’s magnified in an election year.”

McKoon was a favorite to win the Republican nomination for secretary of state, but he came in third place in the Republican primary in May, missing a runoff by nearly 40,000 votes. The winner of that primary — state Rep. Brad Raffesnperger — will face former Georgia Congressman John Barrow and Libertarian candidate Smythe Duval in November.

McKoon became the face of anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” legislation over the past five years in the legislature, but any substantial such bills failed to pass. McKoon has also trolled LGBTQ Georgians for years, tried to retaliate against LGBTQ-friendly businesses and called the medical needs of transgender military members "absurd."

The job with the Faith & Freedom Coalition is a part-time one and will allow McKoon to continue practicing law. McKoon's term as a state lawmaker ends in January.