ATLANTA (AP) – The Georgia Senate has given decisive approval to a contentious “religious freedom” bill – one of a wave of measures surfacing in at least a dozen states.
The Georgia bill would forbid state government from infringing on a person’s religious beliefs unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest. Sponsor state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, called that a “bright line” and said it is closely modeled on a national religious freedom law passed in 1993.
But critics say such measures could provide legal cover for discrimination against gays and transgender people.
The Georgia legislation has sparked protests in the Capitol rotunda and pitted clergy members against one another.
The proposal’s fate in the House is uncertain; a similar bill remains in a committee in the chamber.