The critics of a proposed “religious liberty” bill in Georgia are rushing to ratchet up the pressure on its sponsors.
Already, the bill has faced the wrath of some Atlanta’s corporate elite and gay rights groups. Now Democratic-leaning Better Georgia is using guerrilla-inspired tactics to try to derail the legislation.
The full-page ad you see here is running in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and the Marietta Daily Journal, the hometown papers of state Sen. Josh McKoon and state Rep. Sam Teasley, the Republican sponsors of the proposals. It echoes one of the main criticisms of the bill: That it could let some take advantage of the legislation to cite religious beliefs to freely discriminate or otherwise flout Georgia law.
“This legislation would give criminals who abuse their children or spouses a new excuse and make it even more difficult for police officers to put abusers behind bars,” said Better Georgia director Bryan Long.
The charge that H.B. 29, the one religious liberty bill that has been filed, would give cover to child abusers was made last week by David Cooke, the Democratic district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit.
Both McKoon and Teasley contend that Cooke is misreading the legislation, and that state protections of children and spouses would still apply.
Previous versions were designed to parallel similar federal legislation, and a draft of Teasley’s proposal mandates that the legislation would only apply to government agencies and not to business owners or others.
Better Georgia was Democrat Jason Carter’s most vocal third-party supporter, and the group seems to have found its next calling now that Gov. Nathan Deal has won re-election. It’s not the first time the group has turned to jarring newspaper ads to slam a politician: Better Georgia made a splash three years ago with full-page ads targeting the governor.
Deal, by the way, has twice given his tacit support to the legislation. He told reporters again last week that it wasn’t on his agenda but he has “sentiment” for it, given his vote while in Congress for the measure’s federal cousin.