Fight against ‘religious freedom’ bills heats up

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The brewing fight over anti-gay “religious freedom” bills at the State Capitol turned into a brawl on Monday as opponents argued the sponsors of the proposals are siding with people who abuse women and children.

The salvo came from gay-led Better Georgia, which campaigned against the measures with full-page ads in the Marietta Daily Journal and Columbus Ledger-Dispatch. The media outlets are the hometown papers of state Rep. Sam Teasley (photo), the Republican who has filed House Bill 29, and Sen. Josh McKoon, who has promised to again propose a similar bill.

Better Georgia announced the campaign on its website with this headline: Why are Sen. McKoon and Rep. Teasley siding with abusers?

When our elected officials put pure politics ahead of what’s best for Georgia families, Better Georgia holds them accountable.

That’s why we published full-page ads in today’s hometown newspapers of Sen. Josh McKoon and Rep. Sam Teasley. We’re telling voters in their home districts that, under the guise of supporting “religious freedom,” Sen. McKoon and Rep. Teasley are sponsoring dangerous legislation that threatens the safety of Georgia families.

The ads don't mince words:

“He said his religion gave him the right to make his wife and children obedient. And if some Georgia lawmakers get their way, abusers will be able to hide behind religion in court.”

The ad that appears on page 12 of Monday's edition of the Marietta Daily Journal (bottom image) doesn't mention Teasley, though an earlier proof sent to Better Georgia supporters does. The ad in the Ledger-Dispatch could not be viewed online; a proof from Better Georgia says it names McKoon.

The “religious freedom” proposals have prompted saber rattling on both sides this year after a contentious fight during the 2014 legislative session in which the measures stalled. Georgia's Hater in Chief says she's for them, as does former Southern Baptist leader Rev. Bryant Wright, who lobbied for the proposals in an anti-gay sermon before the Georgia House.

But gay-friendly faith leaders say there's no need for the bills, while LGBT activists are creating a grassroots campaign, Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, to fight them. And this Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist mocks the proposals with flair.

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