Georgia Chamber to state lawmakers: just say no to ‘religious freedom’ bills

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce sounded off in an anticipated battle by coming out against the re-introduction of “religious liberty” or “religious freedom” bills in the next session of the state legislature.

Per the AJC, the Georgia Chamber released a policy statement, not yet finalized, declaring strong opposition against the bills, which are seen by many as disciminatory against the LGBT community.

“Practices that open the door to discrimination or create the perception that Georgia supports a discriminatory business environment would threaten our competitiveness,” Chamber spokeswoman Joselyn Baker told the AJC. “It would likely discourage some investments, and possibly affect our ability to attract the kind of quality workforce that we need for the future.”

That hasn’t deterred Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon, who has stated he intends to reintroduce the legislation regardless.

The bills, called the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” were introduced in both the state House and Senate in the last session, leading to fierce opposition from the state Democratic Party, LGBT advocacy groups and the LGBT community as a whole.

“Among many other things, [the bills would] open a Pandora’s box of LGBT discrimination and unfairly target women based on their health care decisions,” stated a press release at the time from the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Politicians, community leaders, religious leaders, business owners and private citizens packed a Feb. 25 House subcommittee meeting to show their opposition to the bills, with openly gay Rep. Simone Bell giving a particularly memorable, impassioned speech.

Corporate powerhouses like Delta Air Lines, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Home Depot and Coca-Cola came out against the billsThe bills later died thanks in no small part to the vocal opposition against them.

Activists started a Facebook page in August urging people to tell McKoon not to re-introduce the bill in the 2015 legislative session, which kicks off in January. | @patricksaunders