March 5, 2015 at 4:16 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Georgia Senate passes religious discrimination bill

Georgia State Capitol, gay news, Washington Blade

The Georgia Senate has passed a religious discrimination bill. (Photo by connor.carey; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Georgia Senate approved legislation on Thursday that critics say is thinly veiled attempt at enabling discrimination against LGBT people in the state.

After nearly 90 minutes of debate, the Republican-controlled chamber approved by 37-15 vote SB 129, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would prohibit the government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion.

It’s seen as a way to enable individuals and business to refuse services for LGBT people, or for clerk officials to refuse marriage licenses for same-sex couples in the event marriage equality comes to Georgia.

The bill was engrossed before debate began by a 38-17 vote, which meant lawmakers who would have sought to amend legislation, including with measures to mitigate its impact, were unable to propose anything.

The House has yet to take action on the bill, or HB 218, the House companion to the legislation. Once the chamber passes an identical version of the bill, it’ll head to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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