A controversial bill in the Georgia House and Senate is losing steam and may not even be voted on during this session.
The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act has caused controversy due to its broad wording. The bill, which guarantees the right to religious expression in the face of government “burdens,” has been criticized by LGBT and human rights groups for legalizing discrimination. Critics say it would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs. Similar laws have been raised in other states like Arizona and Kansas, but have been struck down.
Senator Joshua McKoon, who authored the Senate version of the bill, said that a planned discussion of the bill on Monday has been removed from the schedule. A committee in the House was supposed to discuss their version as well, but that meeting was canceled.
This development has been championed to the LGBT community. Adreanna Natteil, an LGBT student at the University of Georgia who has described the bill as “hateful” and “ridiculous,” said she is glad that it hasn’t gained any traction in the legislature, and she hopes that it never does.
Anthony Kreis, a PHD student specializing in sexual orientation law at UGA, says the bill is flawed and overly vague. He mentions that a for-profit business cannot claim religious liberty rights. He believes that the bill does not have bad intentions, but needs to be severely reworked and rewritten. He hopes that the tabling of the bill will allow a better discussion between the opposing sides.
But McKoon is standing firm in support of his bill. He called the reaction a “hysteria” and that the facts will come out when the hysteria fades. If the bill does not pass in time for this session, he plans on resurrecting it for next year’s meetings.