Sunday, March 20, 2016

Religious Freedom Bill Hogwash

It’s a great day in America and the entire world!  Millions upon millions of people are dancing in the streets.  Donald Trump announced he is not running for President and is going into seclusion without his cell phone.  Then I woke up!

We have a lot to look forward to this week.  Spring has sprung, the Easter Bunny is coming, and the State Legislature drops the handkerchief on another less than awe-inspiring session. 

Waiting for the legislative session to be over each year is like waiting on Christmas; it seems to take forever for it to get here and when it’s over, we’re often left disappointed and think, “What a waste of hard earned dollars!”  Here’s a prime example:  Much time, effort, and energy (not to mention tax dollars) was spent on passing the HB 757, the Religious Freedom Bill.  It more aptly should have been called the Right to Discriminate law. 

For two years, this Religious Freedom Bill went back and forth between the House and Senate.  Finally, HB 757 emerged and was lauded as a “compromise” bill.  We all know that Republicans love to compromise.  Yeah, right!  Instead of making the bill more palatable to more people by softening the language, the implications were made harsher.  This legislation now allows for any faith-based organization to fire, or refuse hiring anyone with whom they disagree on religious grounds, not just LBGT people.  And to make it sound even more acceptable, they threw in a provision that pastors will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.  Huh? 

The bill now sits on Governor Deal’s desk to either sign into law or veto.  Deal says he’ll have to think about it for a few weeks. What’s there to think about? If the bill is signed into law, Georgia will experience a crippling economic impact.  Most all the major companies that comprise the economic backbone of Georgia are warning of the dire consequences to our State.  Here in Georgia, we pride ourselves in our sports teams and sports events.  The Hawks, the Braves, and the Falcons are urging the Governor to veto this Bill.  No more Super Bowls, no more Final Fours, the loss of the movie industry, untold numbers of businesses leaving Georgia or not locating to Georgia, the canceling and boycotting of events and conventions. All possibilities.  If signed into law, the only convention in Georgia will be the Southern Baptist Convention.

Georgia stands much to lose and little to gain.  The need to pass legislation to protect a constitutional right is a bunch of hogwash.  Call Governor Deal and tell him so.  404-656-1776.

Sometimes when I read these bills, I have to scratch my head.  One such bill was Senate Bill 85 approved this week.  This bill, sponsored by Republican State Representative Brad Raffensperger of John’s Creek, bars immigrants without legal status from serving on local boards, commissions, and councils.   I suppose we should applaud Mr. Raffensperger for his forward thinking.  After all, there are a total of two such people serving in that capacity in the United States and that’s in California.  You should feel safer now that we are protected from this looming threat. 
Our representatives have their priorities screwed up.  They concentrate on irrelevant and unnecessary legislation while ignoring measures that actually help people instead of hurting them.  Legalizing medical marijuana oil for children’s seizures and a few other disorders last year was a step in the right direction.  The big problem is, short of traveling to Colorado, there’s no easy, legal way to obtain the medication.  There was the false hope this year the list of ailments helped by this medication would be expanded, the minimum age be raised, and a method to cultivate and distribute be identified.  Governor Deal shut it down!  It’s the equivalent of saying, “We have a cure for cancer but we aren’t going to let it be manufactured.”  Representative Allen Peake of Macon vows to continue fighting for passage of this legislation. 

Happy Easter everyone and I hope you make a memory!

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