On Thursday, February 25, dozens of Macon-Bibb County residents gathered at the Macon-Bibb Government Center to protest House Bill 757, commonly known as the Religious Freedom bill. In an election year, the Republican-dominated Georgia General Assembly is attempting to push through this controversial bill which is an attack on civil rights and undermines the U.S. Constitution. HB-757 is currently on the fast-track of being passed by the General Assembly after being passed in the state House and Senate already.
State Sen. Greg Kirk, a Republican from Americus, is the main sponsor to the religious freedom bill and is determined to get this legislation passed House Bill 757. Many critics question whether this proposed law is about protecting religious freedoms. Some believe Kirk’s proposed law provides a backdoor for state-sponsored discrimination and undermines the Constitution.
One of Kirk’s Democratic colleagues brought up the point that the KKK or its members could be considered a religious organization and have protection under this type of legislation. As a state and nation, we have come too far to go backwards. This legislation goes beyond targeting same-sex couples, but discrimination against people of any orientation who have premarital sex or children out of wedlock or even couples of different races. A poll was released showing that two-thirds of Georgia residents support LGBT non-discrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations and only one-third support businesses being able to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious belief.
Macon’s WMGT-TV spoke to some of the protesters and they said the following:
“I believe in love. I believe in equality and I believe this bill stands for neither one of those things so it needs to go,” said protester Anna Hagemeyer.
One man traveled from Columbus for the cause.
“I came to Macon, Georgia to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and allied community,” said Steve Gill.
HB 757 would let religious leaders decline to perform a sacrament, like marriage, if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Supporters of the bill claim people shouldn’t be punished for denying a service to someone because they believe a certain way.
“It really begs the question, what are they afraid of? Why are they so anxious? What are they so confused about? Could they please take their anxiety, and their confusion, and their fear and not inflict this upon other people,” asked Gill.