Log Cabin Republicans jump into ‘religious freedom’ bill fight

The Georgia Chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans denounced the so-called “religious freedom” bills being advanced in the Georgia legislature, saying they would be a license to discriminate against same-sex couples, would allow emergency workers to refuse treatment, and would hurt Georgia’s economy. The bills have been proposed by state Sen. Josh McKoon and state Rep. Sam Teasley, both Republicans.

“The authors of this legislation contend that it will only protect people, their beliefs, and their religious practices,” said Log Cabin Republicans National Chairman, and Georgia resident, Jamie Ensley in a press release today. “But this legislation reaches much deeper than that: It will also make it legal to refuse housing or services, deny employment, and violate others’ rights just because of one person’s interpretation of their particular religion.”

Former Republican Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers called the bills an "excuse to discriminate" in a Tuesday press conference. (File photo)
Former Republican Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers called the bills an “excuse to discriminate” in a Tuesday press conference. (File photo)

Ensley was elected in January and is the first person from the Deep South to chair the National Log Cabin Republicans. The group also cited concerns about the bills’ effects on Georgia’s economy.

“Businesses know it’s better for their bottom line to operate in states with laws that make employees feel safe, welcome and productive, not hostile laws like this current piece of legislation,” Ensley said. “That’s why the vast majority—89 percent—of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“People of faith know that religion is not something meant to harm others. That’s why we’re now standing up and speaking out against this bill in Georgia,” concluded Ensley.

The announcement comes just a day after former Republican Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers held a press conference where he called the bills a “disaster”  and said they would keep people from moving to Georgia.

“Above all, this bill in my judgment is nothing but an excuse to discriminate,” Bowers said. “And I would ask you this: why is the bill needed if not for the purpose of discriminate? To tell a gay couple you can’t have a marriage license, or to tell an interfaith couple you can’t have this apartment. Why else do you need it?”

A group of Republican state representatives issued a response to Bowers later Tuesday afternoon, calling Bowers “shameless” and saying that the legal opinion of the former top attorney in the state is not credible. However, they framed their disappointment around Bowers being a “fellow attorney,” neglecting to mention that he is also a fellow Republican.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders