Gov. Nathan Deal flip-flopped on adding LGBT protections to a contentious anti-gay “religious freedom” – measures that have split the state GOP – reversing a position he held just a few weeks ago.
Deal said Wednesday that the legislation from state Sen. Josh McKoon – which embroiled the legislature in controversy earlier this year – might not need LGBT protections added to it after all, a point that LGBT activists would argue. It’s a flop-flop from early April, when Deal said he wanted to see LGBT protections added to the bill, something McKoon resisted throughout the legislative debate over it.
“That depends,” Deal said when asked if he still considers the clause a requirement. “It has not been necessary in the original federal version of the statute. And if we have something that’s a replication of that statute, it may not be necessary.”
In April Deal, wary of the state getting sucked into that national debate that erupted over similar legislation in Indiana and Arkansas, said this:
He called the anti-discrimination clause “the most important” addition.
“And that is a delicate thing to do,” he said. “There’s been so much hyperbole. It’s hard to identify what can you say without saying too much, what can you say without saying too little, and what will people read into either version.”
Deal’s flip-flop comes after the Georgia GOP approved a resolution supporting the “religious freedom” legislation without LGBT protections during its weekend convention in Athens. Deal, McKoon and others argue that the legislation mirrors federal protections already in place, which demonstrated that the legislation would be a gateway drug to LGBT discrimination. But LGBT activists counter that the federal legislation doesn’t apply to local civil rights laws, such as LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws in place in nearly 60 municipalities across Georgia. McKoon’s bill would threaten those, they argue.
Deal’s move also signals that even if he appoints a gay-friendly judge and the party elects a polite gay Republican to its leadership team, little has changed when it comes to the state GOP and its effort to undercut – and legislate away – LGBT equality.
Nevermind what Deal does to gay men with HIV.