This post quotes extensively from Georgia HB 757, available on the Internet. In the event the source is ever moved or deleted, I have retained a copy on this site.
I am so very sorry
A political fantasy has swept the country and is beginning to run head on against reality:
House Bill 757
would have given faith-based organizations in Georgia the option to deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Supporters said the measure was meant to protect religious freedom, while opponents have described it as “anti-LGBT” and “appalling.”
Let me spell that out in case you missed it: “deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.” In place of “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” read “the people.” The people who pay taxes. The people who vote for you. The people who pay your salary. The people you are supposed to work for. Yes, politicians, your job is not to look out for the interests of only straight, white, Christian fundamentalists with an aversion to all others. Your job is to look out for the rights of all the people.
It is interesting to see the legislation in question. What is it about this bill that was so favored by some? The wording is, in part:
Domestic relations; religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right; provide
Official Summary: A BILL to be entitled an Act to protect religious freedoms; to amend Chapter 3 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as to change certain provisions relating to days of rest for employees of business and industry; to protect property owners which are religious institutions against infringement of religious freedom; to define a term; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
This is only a summary. The details are in the full text. A quick read reveals a number of interesting points, including the following:
To protect religious freedoms; to provide for defenses and relief related thereto; to amend Chapter 3 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to provide that no individual shall be required to attend the solemnization of a marriage, performance of rites, or administration of sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as to change certain provisions relating to days of rest for employees of business and industry; to protect property owners which are faith based organizations against infringement of religious freedom; to protect certain providers of services against infringement of religious freedom…
[HB 757; 1-11, emphasis added]
This part spells out the intent of HB 757, and part of that intent is “to protect property owners which are faith based organizations.” Later the meaning of “faith based organization” is delineated:
‘Faith based organization’ means a church, a religious school, an association or convention of churches, a convention mission agency, or an integrated auxiliary of a church or convention or association of churches, when such entity is qualified as an exempt religious organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
[HB 757; 80-84]
This may be a side point, but it’s worth noting. As defined, “faith based organizations” already have protection under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Specifically, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is a puzzlement as to why state legislators thought to include this unneeded protection.
As it turns out, the real matter is not faith based organizations, it’s government officials. It’s those who work for the people, all of the people. Significantly, HB 757 provides protection to public officials who do not do their jobs:
(4) Afford any protection or relief to a public officer or employee who fails or refuses to perform his or her official duties; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not prohibit any person from holding any public office or trust on account of religious opinions, in accordance with Paragraph IV of Section I of Article I of the Constitution.
[HB 757; 217-220]
Is even this wording needed? Don’t public officials always do their jobs, the jobs which require an oath of office, which oath typically includes wording to the effect the officials promise to uphold the law as part of their duties? What elected or appointed official would ever take it upon himself (or herself) to set aside the rule of law in favor of some personal preference? I’m glad you asked:
Let me get this straight. Hood County Clerk Katie Lang took it upon herself to defy the law and to expose tax payers of Hood County to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, on a personal whim? How many ways are there to spell breathtaking inanity? And it played out two blocks from where I grew up.
Yes, sorry to say, this little drama touches on the place I called home in my formative years. Where did I go astray?
There were people, people in Georgia, who wanted this bill passed and signed into law, and their intentions were not pure. The persons proposing this legislation had the motivation to protect those like themselves, those with an aversion to homosexuals. Most seek to conceal this intent. They hide it. They seek refuge in ancient religious texts. They claim to be commanded by a higher power, a power beyond their control:
Leviticus 18:22 King James Version (KJV)
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
This is but a sample. There are others, more stringent. And people of faith must not contravene these proscriptions. To do so would betray their faith and would incur the wrath of a higher power, a power higher than any law of the land. These words out of Leviticus (and others) are strict and guide the lives of the righteous and the faithful. There are no exceptions:
Deuteronomy 22:11 King James Version (KJV)
11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.
Leviticus 19:28 King James Version (KJV)
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 King James Version (KJV)
18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Exodus 21:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
Exodus 21:1-6 King James Version (KJV)
21 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.
2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.
5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
That seems to be straight forward. I can’t find any ambiguity in these instructions. People of faith must adhere strictly to these rules for living, with no exceptions. No exceptions when the rules relate to something the person already had in mind. Something such as disdain for homosexuals. All those others may be forsworn. Dishing dirt on queers requires strict observance. It is the word of the Lord.
So disappointing to mention, there are others who agree:
ALTOONA, Wis. – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday for vetoing a controversial religious liberties bill that came under heavy criticism from opponents who argued that it would discriminate against gay and transgender individuals.
“I thought that was very disappointing to see Governor Deal in Georgia side with leftist activists,” Cruz told reporters outside a restaurant here where he met with voters ahead of Wisconsin’s April 5 primary.
Of course, I am shocked. Shocked that a Texas senator from Calgary would take such a stand. Not really. We all saw this coming, even before the governor could find his veto stamp:
No question, the contestants for the Republican presidential nomination are a very conservative bunch, but there is something that sets Texas Sen. Ted Cruz apart from the pack: his endorsements from some of the religious right’s kookiest voices. Where the 2008 GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, distanced himself from militants on the evangelical fringe, Cruz proudly embraces them.
Among the most notable — or notorious — of these Cruz endorsers is Mike Bickle, the pastor who runs the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo. Bickle has preached that in the “End Times” God will raise up someone to hunt down Jews who fail to accept Christ — someone, he imagines, in the mold of the most famous Jew hunter of them all, Adolf Hitler. Among Bickle’s other end-of-the-world teachings is that Oprah Winfrey is unwittingly part of a “Harlot movement” that is paving the way for the Antichrist. He also predicts that the gay agenda, which he says is “rooted in the depths of hell,” will lead to the elimination of marriage as an institution.
Most recently, Bickle opined that January’s big blizzard on the East Coast was a punishment from God for the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal of a North Dakota abortion rights ruling that went against the anti-abortion side.
Another Cruz fan is Bob Vander Plaats, leader of an Iowa-based group called the Family Leader. Of Cruz, Vander Plaats says he is “the most consistent and principled conservative” in the nomination race.
One of the principles Vander Plaats espouses is that the fight against same-sex marriage is equivalent to the 19th century struggle against slavery. Same-sex marriage, he has said, is a “Satanic plot” that will lead to parents marrying their own children. Vander Plaats has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his anti-gay policies. He has proposed the Putin-like idea that students should be taught homosexuality is a public threat on par with smoking.
There are either of two ways to spell this: “Guilt by association” or “The company you keep.”
As it turns out, those in Georgia who pushed for HB 757 in the first place are correct. There is a higher power. It’s a power they will ignore at their peril. It’s the power of the pocketbook. HB 757 earned a veto under pressure from the people in Georgia who sign the checks. Business leaders, the base of conservative America, saw HB 757 as bad for business. It’s hard to get business to invest in a place that has “jake leg” stamped all over it.
I have touched on “jake leg” before. It translates into something I mentioned a number of times, often in conjunction with breathtaking inanity. This may be one of those cases.