Georgia House Speaker Addresses “Concerns” over “Religious Liberty” Legislation

Republican House Speaker David Ralston talked to the AJC about his thoughts on anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” legislation, of which Gov.-elect Brian Kemp has expressed support.

“I’d have to think through [supporting religious liberty legislation] a little bit,” Ralston said, citing “serious concerns” regarding the legislation.

“The states that have passed it, or have talked about it in the last few years, have not had good experiences,” he told the AJC. “And I don’t want Georgia to have that experience.”

He went on to recognize the change the world has seen since Bill Clinton signed the federal Religious Freedom Act in 1993. “The RFRA discussion then was totally different,” he said. “It wasn’t what it was about now. That’s one of those issues that divide us, and I think if we’re going to continue to move Georgia forward, we have to do it united as opposed to divided.”

This religious freedom legislation has been criticized by LGBTQ groups as only a justification for anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

“The ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ places LGBT people at risk by emboldening individuals who would use religion to justify discrimination,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow when similar legislation was introduced in Mississippi. “The law lacks clear provisions preserving the integrity of non-discrimination protections at the local level or possible future state-wide protections.”

Kemp said in August that, while he supports the “religious liberty” legislation, he would veto any legislation that veered from the RFRA signed by Clinton if elected governor. He said he’d only sign a “mirror image” and not any proposal with additional provisions.