If you haven't had a chance to read Mark Joseph Stern's wry article about Georgia Senator Josh McKoon, then you are missing out on all the ways the esteemed lawmaker has been trying to justify the failure of a "religious liberty" bill that died last spring. The history of the bill itself is a fascinating chain of events.
"...Like most conservatives, McKoon initially peddled the laughable line that his bill wasn’t intended to undercut LGBT rights. But when a moderate Republican called his bluff, proposing a simple amendment to clarify that the bill did not legalize discrimination, McKoon let the façade drop. 'That amendment,' he fumed, 'would completely undercut the purpose of the bill.' With those words, McKoon finally admitted what so many would not: The whole point of 'religious liberty' bills is to nullify LGBT nondiscrimination measures.
Since then, the Georgia GOP has split wide open over McKoon’s bill. Religious conservatives in the party vehemently support it; business-minded moderates, who fear an Indiana-style backlash, vigorously oppose it. (The latter camp is led by Jewish Rep. Mike Jacobs and supported by the Anti-Defamation League, which has led to some disturbing dog whistles.) Now McKoon is lining up his soldiers for the next charge—and, in doing so, dropping all pretexts about the true intentions of his bill. In a remarkable speech, McKoon pilloried companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot, which are headquartered in Georgia and spoke out against the bill. These companies, McKoon claimed, are the main roadblock to the bill’s passage:
We’ve had this problem because very large multi-national corporations that are headquartered in this state—their executives, many of whom are not from Georgia, have different values than you and I do. They think that their cultural norms, their liberal, far-left cultural norms, should be applied to our state."
The fight for Georgia's soul was in the hands of two factions of the GOP: the Religious Right and business-friendly politicians. And while the fundamentalists were loud from their pulpits, it was not enough to drown out the voices of the jobless millions who would have suffered if big corporations had pulled out of the state. Yet Senator McKoon still continues to put his questionable moral beliefs before rational, non-discriminatory thought.
A message to the senator: if everyone is against you, you might not be the crusading iconoclast you think you are. You might just be wrong.