Three ‘religious freedom’ bills are now in play

[private]Georgia lawmakers will have at least three bills to pick from this session in the ongoing debate over “religious freedom” and its application to same-sex marriages.

The mildest of the bills is HB 757, which was introduced by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) on behalf of Speaker David Ralston.

Known informally as the “pastor protection” bill, HB 757 provides that no minister or religious practitioner can be required to “solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion.”

With Ralston’s support behind it, HB 757 could be the first religious freedom bill to get a floor vote this session.

Tanner has also introduced HB 756, a bill that would go farther than Ralston’s proposal by allowing businesses to refuse “to sell goods or services directly to a religious organization or for a religious or matrimonial ceremony in violation of such seller’s right to free exercise of religion.

HB 756 would make it legal for bakers to bake cakes for same-sex weddings or for photographers to refuse to shoot photos at such ceremonies.

Still waiting in the wings is SB 129, the “religious freedom restoration act” introduced by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) that passed the Senate last year and is still the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) has said the judiciary committee probably won’t consider SB 129 until after crossover day later in the legislative session.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: David Ralston , Josh McKoon , Kevin Tanner , religious freedom