Proponents of passing a License to Discriminate in Georgia are test-driving a new talking point: Saying they won’t pass any bill that’s more strict than federal “religious freedom” laws.
That sounds reasonable on its face, but it’s not. It’s the same call for state-sanctioned discrimination that we’ve heard for the last five years. Our position is unchanged: Right now, in Georgia, no RFRA is a good RFRA.
There are two big reasons why: At the federal level, civil rights laws often prevent religion from being used to discriminate—but there are no federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Georgia has no statewide protections either.
Even in existing federal law, we’re now seeing the balance tip toward discrimination. Courts are interpreting laws that protect religious practice in ways that encourage discrimination, and enforcement of federal non-discrimination law is weak. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a great fact sheet that lays this situation out in more detail, but essentially there are four broad reasons a federal-style RFRA could not work in Georgia:
- Courts have changed the way that RFRA works, interpreting it more broadly.
- The federal RFRA is currently being invoked to justify discrimination in certain situations, specifically in healthcare and employment, including government-funded health services.
- In the 1990s, Congress actually rejected a second federal “religious freedom” law because it lacked non-discrimination protections.
- State RFRAs are often justified using anti-LGBT rhetoric, making it clear the motive is anti-LGBT discrimination.
These reasons are more than enough to continue to oppose RFRA, and speak out forcefully against any attempt by opponents of equality to say these laws are anything but state-sanctioned discrimination.
We need to push back fast against this new strategy for bringing a License to Discriminate to Georgia. Share this FAQ about their scheme, so fair-minded Georgians know the truth.
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