Republican lawmakers in Georgia are itching for another fight over anti-gay “religious freedom” legislation and are now exploring breaking their bigotry into bite-size pieces and passing several bills.
They hinted at the strategy during a hotel industry gathering last week. Via WABE:
“I’ve not heard of any specific bills that are coming back forward, but my assumption is that we will see it be broken up into smaller issues,” said state Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) (photo). “To that point, it allows more information to be given out based on specific issues.”
The bills are coming. State Sen. Josh McKoon has promised it. Lawmakers are already debating it. After all, conservative Republicans have an insatiable appetite for the anti-gay bills.
House Republicans also re-elected a proponent of the legislation to its leadership team. State Rep. Sam Teasley, who has pushed his own “religious freedom” bills in the past, was voted last week to another term as the GOP's Majority Caucus vice-chair, according to Georgia Pol.
Even the hotel executives that Duncan talked with expect the return of the controversial legislation. Via WABE:
Ron Tarson, general manager of the Westin at Peachtree Plaza and chairman of government affairs with Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, said he expects religious exemption legislation to be back next year.
Tarson said he doesn’t want Georgia to be like North Carolina, which passed HB2, a controversial bill that bars transgender people from using public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
“We know there's huge impact because we've gotten business from North Carolina, and we don't want our business to go somewhere else,” Tarson said.
But the lessons of North Carolina – and even Georgia earlier this year – be damned. Proponents of the anti-gay legislation will try, try again in January – and are likely to include anti-trans bills in their LGBT assault, too.
Breaking the assault into several bills during the next legislative session follows the approach lawmakers tried earlier this year. Anti-LGBT lawmakers proposed several bills that consumed lawmakers and lobbyists on both sides. When that approach bogged down, Republican leaders switched gears, combined the worst portions of a handful of bills into a single measure and jammed it through the General Assembly.
It worked. Until it didn't.