Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow is running for Georgia secretary of state. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Dems vow to block ‘religious liberty’ measure in 2019

 Patrick Saunders over at ProjectQ picked up on two significant developments at a recent forum hosted by the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. 

The first was a question to statewide Democratic candidates on whether they would oppose “religious liberty” measures. 

The four contenders in attendance all said “yes,” including John Barrow, a former congressman running for secretary of state. We’ll let Saunders explain why:

It was a notable moment for Barrow, who during a 2014 bid for reelection to Congress refused to co-sponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The legislation would have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Barrow was one of only eight Democrats in the U.S. House to refuse to sponsor the bill.

While the five-time Congressman did vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and voted for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, Barrow also voted to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, leading him to often score on par with his Republican counterparts in Georgia on [The Human Rights Campaign’s] Congressional Scorecard. He lost that election in 2014.

The second involved Charlie Bailey, the party’s nominee for Attorney General. The former prosecutor was asked if he has a plan if a “religious liberty” measure becomes law and is challenged in court.

 From Saunders’ story: 

“The great thing about this position and me is that I’ll just refuse to defend it,” Bailey said. “And not only will I refuse to defend it, I’ll instruct my assistant attorneys general to file amicus briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs that are challenging the constitutionality of the legislation.”

This is all the more significant because both Republican candidates for governor - Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp - have vowed to sign the measure. The Democratic nominee, Stacey Abrams, is an adamant opponent and has praised Gov. Nathan Deal for his veto of similar legislation in 2016.

Barrow will face one of two Republicans in November: Ex-Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle and state Rep. Brad Raffensperger square off in July 24 for the GOP nomination.

Bailey is running against Republican Chris Carr, who was appointed attorney general in 2016 by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Insider’s note: This item was ripped and expanded from the Jolt.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.