Georgia Senate attempts an 11th-hour amendment on ‘religious liberty’

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Georgia Senate attempts an 11th-hour amendment on ‘religious liberty’

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State Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The Georgia Senate made a last-minute attempt late Tuesday night to add a “religious liberty” provision to an unrelated bill, the second time in as many weeks the chamber has sought to include protections for faith-based groups that are opposed to same-sex marriage.

No vote was taken on the proposal, which came after 11 p.m. But the move sets up a showdown Thursday, the last day of the legislative session, should the chamber decided to take up the issue before they adjourn for the year.

The original legislation, House Bill 257, involves a mandate for local municipalities to register with the state Department of Community Affairs in order to receive state grants. But the amendment as proposed by state Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, would also require local authorities to follow a mandate set by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act “regarding government burdens on the free exercise of religion,” according to the proposal.

Advocates including Harbin have said such a proposal protects people of all faiths to freely act on their beliefs. But a similar attempt two weeks ago to include protections for private adoption agencies that receive state funds but do not want to place children in all homes was met with resounding criticism by leaders including Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will again have Georgia’s largest team covering the Legislature. Get complete daily coverage during the legislative session at myAJC.com/georgialegislature. www.accessatlanta.com
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