The Georgia Legislative Cataclysm

Today is the day Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard have set aside to kill the Religious Liberty Restoration Act (“RFRA”) in Georgia.

It comes one day after the State of Indiana passed RFRA. Georgia’s House Leadership, which is largely bought and paid for by outside interests opposed to RFRA, is headed toward a legislative cataclysm in doing this and does not even realize it.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Willard has set up a special sub-committee to kill RFRA, pending as S.B. 129. It will be composed of two Democrats and two Republicans. At best, RFRA will be gutted with an “anti-discrimination” provision inserted. This provision, rejected by most states that have considered it, will incentivize left-wing activists to go to local governments and alter the definition of discrimination. That is how, in places like Texas, boys are suddenly “identifying” as girls to go use the girls’ bathroom.

Adding the discrimination provision guts RFRA, but then allows Wendell Willard et al to vote for it claiming they support religious liberty.

However with Willard stacking the deck against RFRA, it is just as likely that RFRA dies in committee today with the State House leadership claiming the legislation is deeply flawed. It is, if you did not know, the same language signed into law by President Bill Clinton with bipartisan support.

If S.B. 129 does not get a vote, without amendment, on the House floor, war is going to break out in the General Assembly.

Governor Deal’s education plan is going to die. Conservatives have committed to holding it hostage. Conservatives are going to lead a full scale rebellion on the budget, which guts teacher health insurance plans, and on the transportation legislation, which is a massive tax increase.

The war is going to be across chambers with conservatives blocking legislation in the State Senate and and siding with Democrats to kill legislation in the State House.

Essentially, Speaker David Ralston has asked his colleagues to vote for a massive tax increase, gutting teacher health insurance, and reject effective religious liberty legislation. That’s too much for conservatives. They’ve been punished for following rules while those close to the Speaker have not. They’ve been smacked around the Governor who will not help them with RFRA.

With S.B. 129 either dying or getting gutted, the end of this General Assembly could see a cataclysm rarely seen in an often choreographed session of the General Assembly.

In Georgia, Boys Might Soon Be Able to Use the Girls’ Bathroom

Boys are going to be able to use the girls’ bathroom in Georgia.

Churches in Georgia will be denied building permits unless they build unisex bathrooms for the transgendered.

I’m not exaggerating.  The Texas legislature has had to swing into action to roll all that back in Texas.  In Texas!!

How did it happen in Texas?  Well, Texas has a religious freedom law that has an “anti-discrimination” provision.  Once it passed, leftwing advocates went to San Antonio, Plano, Houston, and other places and had the definition of discrimination changed.

Former Rep. Ed Lindsey, Speaker David Ralston, and House Judiciary Chair Wendall Willard support Texas’s version of RFRA.  You will see church pastors subpoenaed, church buildings harassed, and Christians persecuted.  It’s all part of the leftwing plan.

But I know how to fight it.

Governor Deal supports the law, but has sat on the sidelines.  He  needs to demand Speaker Ralston put S.B. 129 to a vote without amendment.

Here is how you can help.  Below are the forty most conservative members of the state house according to their current rankings in my score card.

Call them and tell them to refuse to vote for Governor Deal’s Opportunity School District legislation until S.B. 129 passes the House without amendment.

The Governor’s plan is a great one.  But it needs to be postponed until S.B. 129 passes the House without amendment and, if S.B. 129 is amended or killed, we must be willing to kill the school reform plan.

Governor Deal has the clout and floor leaders to get S.B. 129 passed without amendment.  It’s time for him to get involved.  He’s a good man.  He has pledged to sign S.B. 129.  The time to fight is now.

Call Governor Deal at 404-656-1776.

Tell the Governor it is time to get involved to support S.B. 129 without amendment.

Then call these Representatives.  Tell them to refuse to vote on the school plan until S.B. 129 passes the House without amendment.

First

Last

Phone

Stephen

Allison

404.656.0189

Alex

Atwood

404.656.0152

Timothy

Barr

404.656.0325

Buzz

Brockway

404.656.0188

Michael

Caldwell

404.656.0152

Wes

Cantrell

404.656.0202

David

Casas

404.656.0254

Heath

Clark

404.656.0109

Kevin

Cooke

404.656.0188

John

Deffenbaugh

404.656.0202

Matt

Dollar

404.656.5138

Mike

Dudgeon

404.656.0298

Emory

Dunahoo

404.656.0152

Geoff

Duncan

404.656.0189

Chuck

Efstration

404.656.0254

Barry

Fleming

404.656.0152 

Rich

Golick

404.656.5943

Micah

Gravley

404.656.0325

Jeff

Jones

404.656.0126

Trey

Kelley

404.657.1803

Chuck

Martin

404.656.5064

Greg

Morris

404.656.5115

Larry

ONeal

404.656.5052

Jesse

Petrea

404.656.0109

John

Pezold

404.656.0188

Alan

Powell

404.463.3793 

Regina

Quick

404.656.0220

Brad

Raffensperger

404.656.0325

Matt

Ramsey

404.656.5024 

Bert

Reeves

404.656.0287

Trey

Rhodes

404.656.0325

Dale

Rutledge

404.656.0109

Ed

Setzler

404.656.7857

Jason

Spencer

404.656.0177

David

Stover

404.656.0177

Steve

Tarvin

404.656.0109

Sam

Teasley

404.656.5146

Scott

Turner

404.656.0152

Bill

Werkheiser

404.656.0126

Can One Person Be This Ignorant?

After Dick Williams of the Georgia Gang (he’s not dead!) called me out for daring to advocate for something and for, ironically, calling people out, this woman on the Georgia Gang could not figure out why we need RFRA in Georgia. I have no idea who she is, by the way, but I am not impressed.

This is the most aggravating part of the debate. Like David Ralston, she just cannot figure it out.

Hello? Hobby Lobby anyone? It was not the first amendment that stopped Hobby Lobby from having to pay for the abortifacient drugs of its employees. It was the federal version of RFRA, which does not apply to states.

I cannot believe this lady is that ignorant of recent headlines. I suspect it is willful ignorance because she cannot dare admit she wants Christians to pay for abortions.

Why a “Discrimination” Provision Guts RFRA

Essentially, every individual discriminates in some fashion. Gay rights activists refrain from eating at Chick-Fil-A because the company funds traditional marriage organizations. Abortion rights activists boycott Domino’s Pizza because its founder contributes to pro-life organizations. Obamacare advocates boycott Papa John’s because of its owner’s comments on Obamacare. Many Christian evangelical churches have stopped serving Starbucks on Sunday mornings because Starbucks actively contributes to both gay marriage and abortion rights organizations.

Religious organizations, like individuals, discriminate and do so on the basis of their religion. Some do not have female preachers. Some require that teachers be single and celibate unless married. Some require that married couples be heterosexual.

The Supreme Court has previously held that race based discrimination is pernicious and its prohibition is a compelling governmental interest that even religious organizations must adhere to. Likewise, the federal government outlawed polygamy and the Mormon Church found a Supreme Court that decided a prohibition on polygamy was a compelling governmental interest and, therefore, overcame First Amendment concerns by the Mormon Church.

Unfortunately, should a blanket discrimination provision be inserted into the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), it would allow discrimination cases to go forward against religious organizations even if the discrimination claim did not reach a compelling government interest, e.g. discrimination based on race and national origin.

Put more practically, one does not need a rainbow sticker on the back of their car to let you know they’re gay. The two are not the same. Likewise, this is not a hypothetical, but a real world scenario. More importantly, it is happening within liberal municipalities inside conservative states. Liberal activists, knowing they have no chance of expanding discrimination definitions at the state level, or doing so at the local level with surprisingly effective results. Add a discrimination provision to RFRA and you see the protected classes grow quickly at local levels.

A. Texas

In San Antonio, TX, the city government passed sweeping anti-discrimination laws based on gender, sexual orientation, and transgenderism. Texas has a strong religious liberty statute and, consequently, the city government was not able to apply its discrimination statute because the state’s definition of a “compelling governmental interest” overrode the city’s findings.

Houston, TX, recently passed similar legislation and the Mayor of Houston, a lesbian activist, subpoenaed pastors’ sermons to harass them for their opposition to the legislation. Only after public outrage did she back down.

B. Kentucky

In 2012, the city of Lexington, KY passed sweeping local anti-discrimination legislation. That legislation denied building permits, business licenses, and other government licenses to for-profit and non-profit organizations that discriminated on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and transgenderism.

The City of Lexington began harassing non-profit religious organizations over such things as having gender segregated bathrooms, requires that adoptions be in married, heterosexual households, etc.

The Kentucky Legislature subsequently passed H. B. 279, Kentucky’s state level version of RFRA. Testimony in the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee buttressed the argument that religious organizations should be allowed to use their religious standards in the conduct of their business.

C. Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas’s City Council passed a sweeping non-discrimination ordinance in 2014. The Council, consisting largely of professors at the University of Arkansas, had concluded that gender segregated bathrooms, among other things, stigmatized the transgendered community. The voters in Arkansas quickly repealed the ordinance in a referendum.

When people say they only want RFRA with “non-discrimination” provisions, what they are really saying is they want to force their own views on churches and the religious. And frankly, while they can throw out nutty hypothetical after nutty hypothetical, the facts are the side of people of faith.

In Oregon, Aaron and Melissa Klein and their five children are losing their home due to bankruptcy. Their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, is going under.

Black, white, Asian, male, female, gay, and straight couples have all bought cakes from Mr. and Mrs. Klein over the years. This past year, the Kleins were asked to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. They declined because they are Christians. Despite having gays and lesbians support the bakery, Oregon has ordered the Kleins to pay the lesbian couple $150,000.00 for discriminating against them. The Kleins do not have the money and are filing bankruptcy.

In a unanimous vote of the District of Columbia Council in December, businesses in Washington, D.C., including private, religious schools, must no longer make distinctions based on sexual orientation. Catholic Schools, which allow gay men and women to teach, but not marry, are beginning conversations about what to do, including closing schools. Other religious groups are doing the same.

In Colorado, Robert N. Spencer of Masterpiece Cakeshop has served gay and straight customers equally for years. But when a gay couple insisted Spencer bake them a wedding cake, Spencer offered an already made wedding cake that the couple could further customize. Based on his religious convictions, he did not believe he could provide his God given talents for a specifically made cake for a gay wedding. A Colorado court has now ordered Spencer to do it or close his business.

In Richland, Washington, Baronelle Stutzman has owned Arlene’s Flowers for several decades. She has a large gay customer base. But when Mrs. Stutzman declined to provide flowers for a gay wedding of long time customers, she was sued and the state sided with the gay couple, putting her business in jeopardy.

In New Mexico, a state that has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), but whose legislature has ruled discrimination based on sexual orientation verboten even against RFRA, Elaine Huguenin got dragged to court by a gay couple for declining to do photography of a gay wedding. She lost her case too. In New York, the state ordered a couple to pay damages and to cease holding weddings on their farm. The couple opened up their farm for weddings and for parties of people regardless of the hosting couple’s sexual orientation. But they did not want to allow a gay wedding on their property.

Gay rights advocates say a plurality of Americans support gay marriage so it should be so. An absolute majority of American support religious exceptions relating to providing goods and services to gay marriage. But gay rights advocates oppose that. The Supreme Court will undoubtedly impose gay marriage on the nation by June. Our state legislature needs to pass RFRA now to protect people of faith.

The Art of Hostage Taking

Conservatives in Washington, slowly, have learned to take legislative hostages. They have not yet learned that sometimes you must be prepared to shoot those hostages. But they are getting there.

There come times in every legislator’s career that he has to man up and fight like hell for what he believes in. That fighting must sometimes be ruthless fighting. That fighting sometimes means taking a bill hostage, potentially letting it die, for the greater goal and good.

More and more, conservatives are waking up to the fact that we are no longer red states versus blue states. We are more often than not conservatives fighting monied interests. The inclination in supposed red states is to play nice with the leadership. But the leadership in many supposedly Republican states has become more and more in tune with corporate interests and not with those of voters.

Georgia is such a state. The Speaker of the House David Ralston, yesterday held a press conference and accused me of being a monied special interest only advocating for Georgia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act because I am getting bought off.

I have been bought, but it’s with the blood of Christ, not special interest dollars. Ralston, on the other hand, has received tens of thousands of dollars from organizations that oppose the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Ralston has punted the legislation to the Georgia House Judiciary Committee where Georgia State Representative Wendell Willard intends to form a special committee for the sole duty of neutering and gutting the religious liberty law. He’ll then make sure it passes so he and Ralston claim they support it.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a popular piece of legislation. Conservatives in the Georgia legislature need to man up and take hostages to fight for RFRA.

Currently, Governor Nathan Deal’s education plan sits in the House of Representatives. His and Speaker Ralston’s transportation tax increase is in the Georgia Senate and will go to a conference committee. While the tax increase only needs a majority vote, the education plan needs a two-thirds vote of the Georgia House. Then there is the state budget. If Republicans put too much in to attract Democratic votes, a number of Republicans suddenly have political liabilities in districts where my microphone reaches. It’s worth noting every state legislative race in which I participated in the primaries saw my guy win, including beating the incumbent Senate Banking Committee Chairman.

Conservatives absolutely have the votes to kill Governor Deal’s plan. The Governor has sat silently as RFRA dies or gets gutted. While Governor Deals’ education plan is a great plan that I not only fully support, but think would get great results fixing Georgia’s schools, I have no doubt the Religious Freedom Restoration needs to pass the Georgia House without amendments that gut it.

Conservatives in the Georgia House and Senate need to marshall their forces and take both the education plan and transportation plan hostage. They need to be willing to kill both pieces of legislation in order to get S.B. 129, the state’s religious liberty law, through the Georgia House without amendment.

If conservatives in Georgia’s legislature do not stand up to their leadership on this issue, they’ll have given the leadership an easy out with no consequence. There must be a consequence for what the Republican leaders in Georgia are doing. They must not be allowed to neuter, gut, or kill RFRA.

Conservatives in the legislature need to start taking hostages and not release them until RFRA passes without amendment. They must make this session of the legislature more painful for the leadership than the leadership has thus far tried to make it for them.

Georgia’s David Ralston Forgets Hobby Lobby

Down in Georgia, its Republican Speaker of the House, David Ralston, pushed through a transportation tax increase. But he is signaling he has no intention of protecting religious liberty in the state.

Bowing to the Chamber of Commerce and gay rights activists, David Ralston says religious liberty does not need to be protected because we have the first amendment. In fact, Ralston says the only way he would consider bringing up S.B. 129, the state’s religious liberty law that has already passed the state senate, is if Republicans in the State House of Representatives demand it.

Today, gay rights activists are going to storm the State Capitol in Georgia and claim RFRA is only a front for discrimination. They will say that RFRA is only being pushed so Christians do not have to provide goods and services to gay weddings.

David Ralston and the gay rights groups have clearly forgotten about Hobby Lobby. If you are in Georgia, you must call your state representative and demand a vote on S.B. 129 without amendment. Whether you are in Georgia or not, you need to remember Hobby Lobby and understand why Georgia needs to pass S.B. 129.

When the Obama Administration passed Obamacare, the government demanded businesses pay for abortion causing drugs. Hobby Lobby, which covers the birth control costs of its employees, refused to cover five to seven drugs that induce abortions. The Obama Administration demanded Hobby Lobby comply. It refused and sued along with several other small businesses whose families are guided by their faith in operating their businesses.

Hobby Lobby won its case in the United States Supreme Court. It did so not because of the First Amendment, but because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Supreme Court case was very clear. The First Amendment would not have been enough to help the businesses affected. They had to rely on RFRA.

That’s why Georgia needs to pass S.B. 129. It’s not about what happens today or tomorrow. It’s about what happens a year from now. It’s not about what happens at the state level. It’s about what happens at the municipal and county level.

Speaker of the House David Ralston does not believe Christians need their faith protected. He is willing to see Christians surrender their ability to live their faith outside of 11am to noon on Sunday.

It is critically important that if you live in Georgia that you call your State Representative. If you go here, you can put in your address to find the phone number of your State Representative. You need to call him and tell him to demand the Speaker put S.B. 129 up for a vote without amendment.

You need to call today.

Georgia House Will Raise Your Taxes, But Not Protect Your Religious Liberty

Last week, the Georgia House voted for the transportation tax increase.

But Speaker Ralston and the House Judiciary Committee have refused to take any action to support religious liberty in Georgia. These guys are Republicans and they voted for a tax increase, but will not vote to protect your freedom of conscience.

The Georgia Senate overwhelmingly passed S.B. 129, the religious liberty legislation, and did so without amendments. The Georgia House now has the legislation. It is time for the House to act.

I’m afraid we need to start working phones again. Here are the steps you need to take.

  1. Call Speaker Ralston at (404) 656-5020 and ask him to bring S.B. 129 for a vote without amendments.
  2. Call the Republican Leader of the House, Rep. Larry O’Neal, at (404) 656-5052. Tell him that if Republicans are willing to pass the transportation tax increase, they should be willing to bring S.B. 129 up for a vote without amendments.
  3. Go here to find your state representative. Call your state representative and ask him or her to request the Speaker bring S.B. 129 for a vote without amendments.

You need to do all three. It is vitally important.

Then, this Friday, I will send you an email if you’re on the email list. You need to print out copies to distribute in your church on Sunday. You need to generate as many phone calls as possible to both the Speaker and to the individual representatives. The message needs to be the same: bring S.B. 129 for a vote without amendments.

Here’s the last thing: the opposing side has organized a movement to not just harass businesses to come out against religious liberty protections, but also harass members of the legislature.

If you are not willing to pick up the phone, we will lose. Our religious liberty protections in Georgia will start being eroded by left-wing activists inside and outside the judiciary.

The worst part is that it will have been because Republicans in the Georgia legislature were willing to raise taxes, but not protect your faith and conscience.

Start calling now. Insist they tell the Speaker to bring S.B. 129 to the floor immediately without amendments. Your right to worship and practice your beliefs is on the line. And yes, it can happen here in Georgia.

Religious Freedom and Transportation

It was refreshing, actually, to move off national subjects and focus on local politics tonight. The whole show was on the state religious liberty legislation and the transportation tax.

By the way, I’m told you guys swamped Senator Cowsert’s phone lines and email. Well done. Hopefully, he got the message.

Below is information on both the religious freedom legislation and on the transportation bill in the House.

Religious Freedom

For those of you interested in the religious freedom legislation, you need to call or email the men below. Tell them (1) oppose the Cowsert Amendment and (2) support S.B. 129 as it is written.

The names and contact info are:

Josh McKoon, Committee Chairman
(404) 463-3931
[email protected]

Bill Cowsert, Committee Vice Chairman
(404) 463-1366
[email protected]

Charlie Bethel, Committee Secretary
(404) 463-1383
[email protected]

Jesse Stone
(404) 463-1314
[email protected]

John Kennedy
(404) 656-7454
[email protected]

William Ligon
(404) 656-0045
[email protected]

Tommie Williams
(404) 656-0089
[email protected]

Transportation

On the transportation bill, which is pending before the Georgia House of Representatives, you need to follow this link.

The transportation bill is a massive tax hike. It will force local governments to raise taxes. It will raise state taxes. It will force a massive new burden on Georgia families.