Ex GOP Justice official criticizes anti-gay bill

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Clergy have dumped on it. LGBT activists are rallying against it. A national backlash is decrying it. And now, a Reagan Republican and former Justice official says an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill will hurt people and the state.

The takedown of the hybrid (and hijacked) House Bill 757 comes from Joe Whitley, a former federal prosecutor and top Justice Department official in the Reagan and first Bush administrations who is now an attorney in private practice in Atlanta. So yes, he comes to the debate with Republican bona fides stronger than many of the lawmakers supporting the anti-gay legislation. 

Georgia Equality hired Whitley (photo) to analyze House Bill 757. Here's what he found, via the AJC:

After surveying this piece of legislation, I note that in the name of tolerance, this legislation likely will cause more in the way of intolerance for those whose private marital and family relationships may be disfavored by a particular faith. Georgia does not need to enact a law such as this to maintain the freedom of religion or protect deeply held religious beliefs, which the Constitution and Bill of Rights already protect.

Moreover, no person should have religious beliefs imposed on them without their consent. While I am sympathetic to the fact that a number of my fellow citizens have been led to believe that their personal beliefs are unprotected absent such legislation, as I have shown, this is simply not the case. Instead, passage of the Act likely would lead to real harm to many people, as well as to our State and its reputation.

And just what might the broad language of the bill permit? Whitley tackles that too.

  • A restaurant could refuse service to an interracial couple.
  • A sales clerk could refuse to attend a to single mother.
  • A business could refuse to hire a single woman living with her opposite-sex partner.
  • A hospital could deny a man the right to visit a dying spouse.
  • A mobile phone operator could refuse to sell a “family plan” to a same-sex couple.
  • A hotel could refuse to make its ballrooms available for Jewish weddings.

Georgia Equality served up a Republican takedown of the Sen. Josh McKoon's “religious freedom” bill last year. So you might expect that McKoon once again expressed reservations about this latest hired gun.

 

 

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