State Sen. Josh McKoon – ever the optimist when it comes to drafting anti-gay legislation – found the upside in a new poll that shows more people agreed with the veto of an anti-gay bill than disagreed with it.
The WSB poll released Tuesday showed that 31 percent of likely Georgia voters disagreed with Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of House Bill 757, an anti-gay measure that allowed service providers to discriminate against LGBT people and others. The legislation sparked a national backlash and threatened to tank the state's economy.
The WSB poll also found that 42 percent agreed with Deal's veto. Despite 42 percent being a bigger number than 31 percent – meaning more likely Georgia voters agreed with Deal's veto than disagreed – McKoon pounced on the results and said they prove that "religious freedom" bills should be filed when lawmakers return next year.
"We can't simply say to our constituents we're going to stop fighting because there was a veto," McKoon told WSB.
The poll of 570 likely Georgia voters showed that 28 percent had no opinion about Deal's veto – more proof that voters are less concerned about protecting already protected "religious freedom" than McKoon and other anti-gay lawmakers.
The poll showed that disagreement with Deal's veto stretched across party lines – 42 percent of Republicans, 31 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Independents said Deal shouldn't have vetoed the bill.
WSB did not release poll results that showed how many respondents agreed with Deal's veto.
Again, McKoon cited the results – and ignored how many likely voters agreed with the veto – in his push to bring back the legislation next year.
"If you are telling me that 43 percent of Republican voters are saying they disagree with this veto, that's a big chunk of the Republican electorate. Clearly, the base of the Republican party wants us to protect religious freedom," McKoon told WSB.
Or, based on the poll, maybe not.
McKoon also told WSB that Georgia could face a bill banning transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity during the 2017 legislative session. A bill that does exactly that has embroiled North Carolina in controversy and prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to sue the state on Monday.
The issue of transgender students and what bathrooms they can use is also sparking concern among some parents in Fannin County in North Georgia. They are protesting even the possibility that their students might share a restroom with a transgender person – despite there being no record of a transgender student being enrolled in the small school district that serves Blue Ridge.