Is Gov. Deal trying to defang anti-gay bill?

Add this share

Gov. Nathan Deal is finally tuning into the raging “religious freedom” debate engulfing the State Capitol, hinting that a broad anti-gay bill passed on Friday might see revisions before it reaches his desk.

But with Deal, it's never quite clear if that means the hybrid Pastor Protection Act and First Amendment Defense Act will get defanged – or made worse. After all, the legislation that the Senate passed 38-14 along party lines on Friday took one largely innocuous bill – Rep. Kevin Tanner's PPA – and combined it with a sweeping anti-gay measure – Sen. Greg Kirk's FADA – to hatch a bill that would sanction LGBT discrimination by faith-based organizations and undercut non-discrimination protections in place in companies and cities across the state.

So Deal – sensing political trouble and possibly the economic disruptions opponents promised were coming – sent a few political smoke signals on Monday. Via the AJC:

Deal declined to talk specifics on the legislation, but made clear the measure is still evolving – and that he and his top aides are working with House Speaker David Ralston and other legislative leaders.

“We’re working with the leadership of the General Assembly now as that bill is continuing to move through the process,” he said. “So we’ll see.

”He added: “I don’t comment until things are finalized, but it’s not finalized yet.”

But don't set your expectations too high for Deal. He's the same governor who wanted LGBT protections added to an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill before he waffled and then didn't.

A Ralston spokesperson, Kaleb McMichen, also confirmed to the AJC the “ongoing” discussions concerning the legislation.

Ralston's involvement could be comforting. The speaker sought the Pastor Protection Act as a compromise between religious conservatives focused on rebuking the U.S. Supreme Court's gay marriage decision and LGBT activists seeking to protect the marriage equality delivered by the court last June. The measure sailed through the House161-0 on Feb. 11 before it was a hijacked by the Senate Rules Committee. Then, in a series of political tricks, Senate Republicans spit out the hybrid bill with far-reaching anti-gay provisions attached to it that they tried to pitch as “live and let live.” Whatever that means.

Ralston doesn't take kindly to senators shitting on his legislation.


Georgia Tech to pay family of slain LGBTQ student $1 million

The family of Georgia Tech Pride Alliance president Scout Schultz, slain by campus police in 2017, settled with the university this week. Tech officials...

The best LGBTQ things to do in Atlanta this weekend

How do you homo holiday? With concerts, toys, college football and DILFS? Check, check, check and um… check! Gay Atlanta rolls out its first...

Bakhtiari, Waites, Kamau wins make LGBTQ Atlanta history

Atlanta gets three openly LGBTQ City Council members in the New Year after Liliana Bakhtiari and Keisha Waites won their Tuesday runoffs. In South...

15 local LGBTQ nonprofits need the gift that keeps giving all year

While you’re busy making a list and checking it twice, remember queer causes making life better year-round for local LGBTQs, and they need your gift that actually keeps giving.

Swinging Richards to close permanently in January

After a three-decade run and a legendary international reputation, gay Atlanta's only all-male all-nude bar announced Monday that its doors will shutter permanently on...