U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, warming up his re-election chops, took a shot at the controversial “religious freedom” bill in the Georgia legislature. But don't worry, conservatives. He favors something more anti-gay.
Isakson pooh-poohed the “religious freedom” bill from state Sen. John McKoon. Critics have blasted the measure as an anti-gay gateway to discrimination efforts against LGBT people. McKoon says it offers “modest protections” to people of faith.
On Wednesday, Isakson said McKoon and other Georgia lawmakers should leave the anti-gay stuff to him. Via the AJC's Political Insider:
“We ought to have a single, federal standard,” he said. “That ought to be dealt with at the federal level, not the state level.”
He added that it doesn’t mean he opposes state-level legislation, but that he favors uniformity.
“If you had 50 different state standards, it would make it difficult for anyone to do anything,” he said. “You have conflicting standards. I think it’s best dealt with at the federal level.”
Isakson – along with Georgia's other senator, David Perdue – are co-sponsors of the First Amendment Defense Act, which would offer protections to public employees who oppose gay marriage. You know, the same marriage equality that the U.S. Supreme Court made legal in June. State Sen. Greg Kirk is expected to introduce a similar measure in the Georgia Senate.
Isakson once backed Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, whose nomination to the federal bench was scuttled in 2014 in part after his years of anti-gay rhetoric surfaced.
In 2013, Isakson also couldn't be bothered to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when it passed with bipartisan support.
And Isakson scored a 0 on the most recent Congressional Scorecard from HRC.
Lucky for conservatives, Isakson is seeking a third term this year and Democrats can't seem to find anyone to run against him. So if he's a little anti-gay or a lot, he's likely to coast to re-election.
UPDATE | Georgia's other U.S. senator, David Perdue, echoed Isakson's concerns about a state-level measure. Via the AJC:
“I think it’s a federal issue because you have to have a standardized federal approach. That’s kind of where we ended up. I understand why a state would want to get in and do that,” said Perdue. “But you can imagine if you have 50 different versions, how you control that over 50 states?”
Perdue is among the federal sponsors of the bill, which some supporters say is intended to protect those who do not want to issue marriage licenses based on their religious beliefs. A parallel version of that legislation is set to be proposed in Georgia by state Sen. Greg Kirk.