Whitley Urges Georgia Gov to Veto “Religious Freedom Bill”

Joe Whitley

Joe Whitley

When the Georgia House and Senate passed the “Religious Freedom Bill” in April, NAFUSA member Joe Whitely wrote a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal urging a veto, stating that the bill would allow “a broad range of discrimination that will likely meet with many costly legal challenges.”  He told the governor that the bill “does nothing of substance to protect religious liberty and expression that is not already protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

Whitely had performed an analysis of the bill on behalf of Georgia Equality, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Whitely told the governor that the bill “seems intended to send a message to LGBT  Georgians, among others, that they are second-class citizens.”

The First Amendment already protects all Americans’ rights to speech, to worship freely, and to be free from a state-established creed, and the United States already has a robust tradition and body of law protecting free expression,” he said. “It is difficult for me to imagine any form of religious expression that is not already protected by the First Amendment or federal statutory law.

A veto, Whitley said, “is the right and courageous thing to do.” A short time later, Gov. Deal did veto the bill.

Click here to read Whitley letter to Gov. Deal. Whitley also sent a similar letter to the Speaker of the Georgia House.