Lawyer Who Served Under 3 Republican Presidents Tells GA Lawmakers: Reject Anti-LGBT Discrimination!By Adam Polaski • February 29, 2016 • 11:37 am
Last week Joe Whitley, a prominent conservative lawyer in Atlanta who worked as an official for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, analyzed a piece of anti-LGBT legislation being pushed by oppositional lawmakers in Georgia. His findings? The law “would create a basis for discrimination that will harm Georgia and its citizens, as well as our state’s national reputation.”
The bill in question is HB757, an overreaching bill that arms any individual, business, or organization with a License to Discriminate. The legislation would allow individuals and faith-based organizations receiving taxpayer funding to refuse service to anyone who conflicts with their religious view of marriage as between one man and one woman. But the bill is laced with exceptionally broad language, even giving cover to for-profit entities if they include religious beliefs in their mission statements.
Whitley provided his analysis in a letter to House Speaker David Ralston and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Whitley’s analysis should carry significant pull – he is a former federal prosecutor who served in the Department of Justice under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He later served as the first General Counsel in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.
Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:
“Joe Whitley’s legal analysis presents a clear view of HB 757: This is a bill that will hurt Georgians and hurt the state’s reputation. We’ve heard from businesses, people of faith, and now even conservatives are speaking out against this License to to Discriminate. The bill is out-of-step with the majority of Georgians who oppose religious exemptions and support nondiscrimination protections, and should it become law it would send shockwaves through Georgia’s economy. Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal should make it clear that the License to Discriminate has no path forward.”
Whitley’s letter continues: “Under the Act…any entity – including a for-profit enterprise – whose board of directors makes a self-serving resolution acknowledging a “religious belief” would be entitled to discriminate under the Act. And…courts would be prohibited from questioning the sincerity or legitimacy of that belief.”
The bill, per Whitley’s analysis, would not stand up to the U.S. Constitution. He explained, “The Constitution of the United States guarantees all persons the “equal protection of the laws” and empowers the government to enforce laws to provide such protection. The Act, conversely, is an attempt to remove equal protection first from same-sex couples, but then from any person who might find his or her personal relationships stigmatized by those with conflicting religious beliefs.”
Read more about the anti-LGBT legislation in Georgia here – and follow Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, the coalition for which Freedom for All Americans is proud to serve as a leading partner.