ATLANTA — Former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers said Tuesday that two bills being debated by lawmakers create an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people or break state laws and are “deserving of a quick death.”
Bowers warned that the bills could act as a defense for a marriage license clerk refusing to issue the document to gay or mixed-religion couples or for parents opposed to vaccinations or school courses.
“I’m no bleeding-heart liberal, I’ll tell you right up front,” he said at a news conference. “But I don’t think we need these, and I think it would be a black eye for my home state.”
The legislation would forbid the state government from infringing on a person’s religious beliefs unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest.
Bowers said he was hired to do the analysis by Georgia Equality, an LGBT advocacy organization among the opponents arguing that the legislation would open the door to discrimination.
Article continues belowSupporters dismissed his report as the product of a hired gun. They point to a federal religious freedom law that passed in 1993 with bipartisan support and other states with similar legislation, and they say there is no proof of such cases elsewhere.
Sen. Josh McKoon, sponsor of the Senate bill, called Bowers’ news conference a “great public relations move” but said it won’t affect members’ discussions.
“I just think that when your argument is intellectually bankrupt then what you have to do is go get yourself a really good advocate to kind of distract people,” McKoon said. “If I was them, I would want to get the finest attorney I could because the facts are not on their side.”