At its annual meeting on Wednesday night, the Metro Atlanta Chamber announced that it would oppose any “religious freedom” bills the Georgia legislature introduces in 2017. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “SunTrust Banks Executive Vice President Jenner Wood, the outgoing chairman of the chamber’s board, said the conversation alone over the legislation . . . is damaging to the state’s reputation of tolerance and inclusion.”
During the 2016 Georgia legislative session, the Metro Atlanta Chamber was one of the many organizations to protest HB 757, a bill that could have allowed individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded social services organizations to refuse to adhere to any laws that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage. Those who stood to face the most harm if HB 757 had passed included LGBTQ people and women.
Although Governor Nathan Deal vetoed HB 757 in March after a public outcry from businesses and celebrities, proponents of the bill promised to revise that or similar bills in 2017. State Senator Josh McKoon, one of the most outspoken defenders of the 2016 bill, stated in an interview that he believes the state legislature will pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) next year.
The metro chamber promised to fight back, saying: “We are not supportive of any bill that in any way would discriminate against any person.”
Like the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Americans United will continue to oppose “religious freedom” legislation that allows religion to be used as an excuse to harm others.