Debate sparks on Georgia's 'Religious Freedom Bill'

Debate sparks on GA's 'Religious Freedom Bill'

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Georgia Senate just recently passed the controversial "Religious Freedom" bill. And now opponents, including some local gay rights advocates, are putting up a fight.

News Leader 9 got reaction from both sides of this debate.

The "Religious Freedom Bill" has made it's way through the Georgia Senate but the meaning is stirring up a lot of talk.

"Senate Bill 129 makes it fundamentally more difficult for state and local government to infringe on the religious liberties of Georgians," Senator Josh McKoon stated.

But other leaders in Columbus, including the director of Colgay Pride, are against the bill and interpret it differently.

"Our state already has plenty of religious freedom provisions in our state constitution almost more than any other in the United States, so why do we need this bill," said Jeremy Hobbs.

Senator Josh McKoon wants to make sure religious beliefs are respected.

"So were really trying to give the same protection of people of faith here in Georgia from state and local government that they already have from the federal government," Sen. McKoon said.

McKoon argues this bill would now allow any kind of discrimination, but protect the free exercise of religion. Hobbs says it would do something else instead.

"It will allow business to be able to say we can't hire you because you're gay or because you are a Muslim or Presbyterian or whatever the reason may be. This law, to me, has nothing to do with religious freedom," said Jeremy Hobbs.

And to make the bill clear, he wants lawmakers to add an amendment to the bill.

"To say you would not allow discrimination because of the color of their skin, of a different faith or LGBT," said Jeremy Hobbs.

Sen. McKoon, of Columbus, says he's received over two-thirds of the senate voting for the bill.

Senate Bill 129 is now in the Georgia House for consideration, if passed it will go to Governor Deal, to be signed into law.

This bill mirrors a bill passed in 1993 that restores a higher standard for the state government to restrict the free exercise of religion.

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