Georgia’s anti-gay bill makes comeback this week

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A political odd couple – one a stalwart LGBT ally and the other a sponsor of anti-gay legislation – is coming together this week for a series of debates across Georgia about controversial “religious freedom” legislation.

State Sens. Vincent Fort and Greg Kirk (photo) hinted in August that the debate series was in the works. On Monday, the two senators from opposite ends of the political spectrum announced four debates that will start in Atlanta on Tuesday and end in Tifton on Thursday. The events are open to the public.

The debates will tackle the “religious freedom” legislation that dominated the General Assembly earlier this year. Conservative lawmakers and religious activists made it clear the legislation will return next year, despite Gov. Nathan Deal vetoing a toxic bill in March – a portion of which came from Kirk. Nevermind that the legislation provoked national outrage over concerns that it was targeting LGBT citizens.

It's interesting that Kirk is taking part. He – and Republicans in the Senate – weren't too keen on the debating the issue or his anti-gay bill when it appeared during the last legislative session. In fact, they used legislative shenanigans to get it passed. And Kirk, after Deal's veto, said he was done with the “religious freedom” cause and would find a new pet issue. 

Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, is a progressive lawmaker that fights against anti-gay proposals – except when he’s stuck in the bathroom.

Ahead of the 2016 legislative session, advocates on both sides debated “religious freedom” in front of a packed crowd of attorneys and activists. That pairing included state Sen. Josh McKoon – the public face of the anti-gay legislation at the State Capitol – and Jeff Graham, the executive director of Georgia Equality.

The debate schedule announced Monday:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 – 7 p.m.
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
781 Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
 
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 – 7 p.m.
Savannah State University, Whiting Hall
3219 College St,
Savannah, GA 31404
 
Thursday, September 22, 2016 – 1 p.m.
Mercer University, President’s Dining Room
1501 Mercer University Drive,
Macon, GA 31207
 
Thursday, September 22, 2016 – 7 p.m.
UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Auditorium
15 R D C Rd,
Tifton, GA 31794

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