The PJ Tatler

Georgia's House Speaker Pushes Protection For Pastors (But Not For Others)

In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, Georgia’s House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) has proposed legislation for next year’s term that would protect pastors from lawsuits if they refuse requests to marry same-sex couples. Ralston announced the idea at a caucus on the Georgia coast over the weekend.

[Ralston] said he would advocate for the plan when lawmakers return to session in January.

“While the speaker believes that the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges should have been left to elected legislators, that opinion is now the law of the land and, as the governor and attorney general have said, will be followed in Georgia,” Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said.

The policy, he said, would be “narrowly crafted to ensure that pastors, priests and other members of the clergy will never be required by government to perform any marriage not keeping with their religious doctrine.”

McMichen said the current working version of the bill says:

“No minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination, when acting in his or her official religious capacity, shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion.”

While Ralston’s proposal is a welcome step for many pastors and clergy, Erick Erickson pointed out on his radio show yesterday that the legislation only protects the last domino from falling, after many other dominoes, such as tax exemption for religious institutions and schools and protection for businesses on grounds of religious liberty and conscience, have tumbled.

Erickson also pointed out that Ralston led opposition in the State House earlier this year to a religious freedom bill that had already passed the Georgia Senate.

Down in Georgia, its Republican Speaker of the House, David Ralston, pushed through a transportation tax increase. But he is signaling he has no intention of protecting religious liberty in the state.

Bowing to the Chamber of Commerce and gay rights activists, David Ralston says religious liberty does not need to be protected because we have the first amendment. In fact, Ralston says the only way he would consider bringing up S.B. 129, the state’s religious liberty law that has already passed the state senate, is if Republicans in the State House of Representatives demand it.

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Speaker of the House David Ralston does not believe Christians need their faith protected. He is willing to see Christians surrender their ability to live their faith outside of 11am to noon on Sunday.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / DanielW