Georgia Legislature Drops Plans For ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill After Watching Indiana Implode

Let nobody tell you that your voice doesn’t matter. Nowhere is that more clear than in Georgia this week where the state’s Republican-majority legislature quietly killed their very own “religious freedom” bill after watching their fellow conservatives in Indiana go down in spectacular fashion for passing a similar law.

According to WXIA in Atlanta, the Georgia House Judiciary Committee cancelled a scheduled meeting meant to discuss the pending legislation. The bill is effectively tabled, with support dissolving at an almost hourly rate. Sensing shifting sands, the bill’s author, Republican Sen. Joshua McKoon frantically called on his fellow lawmakers to vote on the bill “as-is” as soon as possible before it was too late. So far, no one – left or right – has seemed eager to take him up on his offer.

If you want to understand what happened in Georgia, we need look no further than Indiana. Passing similar legislation, the state now legalized the ability for religious business owners to discriminate against customers who they view as being in opposition to their faith. Supporters argue that this is a means of defending Christians from being forced to do things contrary to their beliefs, but the reality is much uglier.

Even while Republican politicians, including Indiana’s governor Mike Pence, claim the bill doesn’t single out gay people for systematic discrimination, bigoted business owners are bragging about doing just that behind the safety of the law. One owner, perhaps a bit power drunk, even called into a local Indiana radio show to give the hosts an example of how he’s already practicing anti-gay discrimination free of worry:

The business owner, who would not give his name or the name of his business, said he had told some LGBT “people” that equipment was broken in his restaurant and he couldn’t serve them even though it wasn’t and other people were already eating at the tables. “So, yes, I have discriminated,” he told RadioNOW 100.9 hosts. The hosts were surprised the owner said he was okay with discriminating.

“Well, I feel okay with it because it’s my place of business, I pay the rent, I’ve built it with all my money and my doing. It’s my place; I can do whatever I want with it,” he said. “They can have their lifestyle and do their own thing in their own place or with people that want to be with them.” [source]

Georgia, along with nearly 20 other states, planned on pushing through a similar bill… until they watched Indiana.

The backlash towards the bill has come from almost every corner of the American public. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have condemned the measure, as have small business owners within Indiana. The resulting boycotts have already cost the state millions of dollars and could balloon into the billions. The damage, both financially and to the reputation of the state, can be charitably called “severe.”

It has left other states, and especially Georgia, saying “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Prudently, lawmakers appear to be running away from the legislation as fast as their pride will allow.

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