Amended Religious Exemptions Bill Emerges In Ga. House

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Lobbyists and lawmakers are pouring over an amended bill meant to expand religious freedom in Georgia that appeared late Wednesday in the state House.

It’s likely to receive a vote in the House even though many House members had only a few hours to review the legislation; if it passes, the measure could immediately be transmitted to the Senate for approval.

Titled the “Free Exercise Protection Act,” the legislation would reinforce the rights of clergy members to decline to perform marriages to which they are opposed on religious grounds.

It would also allow faith-based organizations to deny services to individuals based on religious grounds.

A previous version of the legislation contained more specific language that said faith-based organizations could deny services to individuals because of their marital status.

Critics of previous measures meant to expand religious freedom have called for anti-discrimination language.

The new bill does include a line that reads: “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to permit invidious discrimination on any grounds prohibited by federal or state law.”

Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will reject any legislation that condones discrimination, and many large corporations in Georgia have condemned the religious exemption bills, saying the measures will be interpreted as discriminatory.

This post will be updated. 

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