Posted: 6:06 pm Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Ten years later, a culture war’s lines of battle are blurring 

By Jim Galloway

Protesting religious freedom bill

More than 200 marchers walk to Gov. Jan Brewer’s office in Tuscon, Ariz., to protest the state legislature’s passage of a “religious freedom bill.” Supporters of the rally, including elected officials and clergy, are urging Brewer to veto the bill. AP/Arizona Daily Star

It was a day to marvel at how the world of politics can change in a mere 10 years.

In 2004, a Republican-controlled Legislature, eager to boost November turnout, won the two-thirds approval necessary to place a constitutional ban on gay marriage before general election voters.

On Wednesday, two bills with “religious freedom” in their titles – measures that required only a simple majority – cratered in the face of critics who said the legislation would permit businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

One of the bills is dead, and the other was tabled — and is likely dead. Give some credit to Delta Air Lines’ loud declaration that that the bills would violate the company’s “core values of mutual respect and dignity.” Home Depot followed with its own condemnation, as did Coke and many other corporations.

But there was also a large dose of Republican concern that a backlash could churn out Democratic voters in November.

What the two bills would and wouldn’t have done is open to dispute. Their Republican authors, Sam Teasley of Marietta in the House and Josh McKoon of Columbus in the Senate, deny that discrimination was a motive.

“That couldn’t be further from my intent. People who know me know that,” Teasley said. More on this point later.

Teasley and the religious conservatives who backed him said they sought to give people of faith protection from government mandates — the Sikh forced to give up his turban to work in a McDonald’s, or the Christian psychology student forced to stomp on a picture of Jesus as part of an experiment in outrage.

The latter was cited as an example during a hearing last week on Senate Bill 377. But at that same hearing, opponents noted that protections extended to businesses would allow them to deny services to gay couples – or to divorced women, Mormons, or Jews — on the basis of religious belief.

Beyond local criticism, the bills ran into a buzz saw that had already been set spinning by Arizona, whose legislature has placed similar legislation before Gov. Jan Brewer.

Arizona’s hosting of a Super Bowl has been threatened. Mitt Romney and John McCain have urged a veto. It is a pot of trouble that Gov. Nathan Deal, up for re-election, doesn’t want served in Georgia.

There is more to this. Ten years ago, the fight to add a ban on gay marriage to the state constitution was a bitter, high-stakes affair. The tussle that may have peaked Wednesday was anything but.

One reason: In 2004, Republicans achieved victory by uniting with African-American Democrats. But that alliance is no longer possible. The endorsement of gay marriage by the likes of President Barack Obama and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has greatly reduced the influence of black churches on that point.

But a larger shift is at work. This generation of conservative Republicans isn’t fighting the same culture war that Pat Buchanan waged in the 1990s. The lines of battle are blurring.

Before Sam Teasley introduced House Bill 1023, he went to one of his best friends in the chamber. He and Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, spent hours upon hours discussing the legislation, both agree.

Drenner, who teaches ethics at the university level, was the first “out” lesbian elected to the Legislature, in 2000.

“I didn’t see any malice in our conversations [about the bill],” said Drenner. “The intent, perhaps, was to let people have their opinions without being judged. I didn’t look at this as just a new way to hammer people. They think they’re being hammered.”

Nonetheless, Drenner said HB 1023 would have had dire, unintended consequences. She said she was prepared to speak against the bill – though not her friend — had the measure come to the House floor.

Teasley was likewise complimentary of Drenner. “There are few people in the Legislature for whom I hold greater respect, in terms of her intellectual consistency,” he said. “She and I obviously disagree on some of the major issues, and that’s okay. We’re grown-ups about it. We have wonderful dialogues spanning all kinds of issues.”

And when a bill that he wrote might have hurt a friend, Teasley pulled it back and decided to give it another try. And that may be the real difference between 2004 and 2014.

84 comments
OriginalProf
OriginalProf

The more I read about these national Republican "religious freedom bills,"  the more I wonder whether they aren't really aimed at legally undermining the ACA's coverage of contraception by its healthcare benefits.  I notice how many churches support this bill that is supposedly aimed at LGBTs, and I don't think they're just expressing their hostility to this "unBiblical" life-style. There have already been several lawsuits by churches over being required to offer a healthcare coverage to their employees that includes contraception.  (Never mind the perfectly legal procedure of abortion.........)


If I am correct, I suppose that the Republican sponsors of these bills thought it would be more acceptable to the voters to express bias against LGBTs than bias against the users of contraception.  There are a lot fewer LGBT voters than women voters.

jezel
jezel

Instead of passing a law..just put a sign on your business. ..Gays and blacks and lesbians and immigrants and...whoever you choose to hate...ARE NOT WELCOME HERE.

doubt if you will have to worry about THEM in your establishment.

What many seek...is affirmation that it is ok to hate. Really. ..you are only fooling yourselves.

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

I'm beginning to think that this latest attempt at 'selective discrimination' is nothing but a 'straw man' that the Repugs are trying to use to show their tolerant side...sort of like claiming to be 'compassionate conservatives'. Some Wingnut legislators propose some bat-s$$t crazy law, then their 'enlightened' leadership rides in to save the day in the belief they'll win points with people that otherwise would - and should - hate their butts.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Republican admitting: "obviously disagree on some of the major issues, and that’s okay. We’re grown-ups about it. We have wonderful dialogues spanning all kinds of issues."


Good to hear that at least *some* people can be grown up about differences and have wonderful dialogues. 


That's what I hope when I come here, but instead, I mostly see partisan rhetoric tossed back and forth. 


SouthGeorgiareader
SouthGeorgiareader

In today's political lexicon, this whole issue is just a Republican "dog whistle."  We all know the real intent of the bill. 

Calel
Calel

Mr. Galloway,

If you think that blacks now support gay marriage because of Obama (and Reed locally), you are sadly mistaken. See, blacks support OBAMA, even though they may not support everything he supports. There's a black megachurch pastor here in Atlanta who told his congregation before the '12 election, "we can support Obama for president, but we'll pray the Republicans hold on to the House so nothing can be done on gay marriage." This pastor oversees a huge church near Greenbriar Mall and another one in New Orleans. The SECOND Obama is out of the White House is the second black Democrats go back to expressing vocal opposition to gay marriage. Don't mistake support for the man with support for the issue.

honested
honested

This is a bit simpler than it seems.

The2004 bogus 'Constitutional Amendment' vote did not signify a huge groundswell of support. Instead it was more a red meat issue to draw in the deluded voters that had given the Genuinely Obnoxious Party (of punks) their majority. It maintained their advantage for two additional years allowing the only Governor to date worse than nathan deal (ok I am ignoring lester maddox) to set in motion the decade of economic decline we experienced.


Anyone who can remember 2004 probably can't name a half dozen Gay people they knew at the time for whom getting married was job 1. Other oppressive issues of our tawdry little state were more in the forefront. The issue was more one of fear of the godbleevin rednecks basking in their newly anointed status as 'leaders'.


Now that the world has progressed while the punk party has held onto it's antebellum obsessions, they have no options but to attack people who gained respect while the bubbas were busy stealing from the Ga treasury.


Someday, they might get busy about doing the business in the true interest of the Citizens (you know, stuff like adequate healthcare, regional transit, adequate funding for education) but in the meantime, they have a legacy of loserdom to attend.

honested
honested

@DirtyDawg  

One can't help but wonder how the crazy ones keep getting elected.

Is it just for the sick entertainment?

honested
honested

@SouthGeorgiareader  

As was the foolish 2004 amendment vote nothing but a dog whistle. 

Today, the pitch must be more carefully tuned as many of those who may have been swayed in 2004 have died off or are no longer listening.

Charles50
Charles50

@Calel  Calel - I agree.  I was surprised by the comment that Black churches have no voice in this because of the POTUS and Reed.  They don't speak for all blacks, and especially on this issue.  In fact, this is probably one of the issues that many black churches completely disagree with both men.  I also attend one of those churches.

honested
honested

@Calel  

The point you overlook is that MAKING LAW is NOT the function of ANY CHURCH!

You do get the whole Separation of Church and State thingy don't you?

GB101
GB101

@honested  What is the 'meaning' or your putting the term "Constitutional Amendment" in 'quotes'?  

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

Delta would be more than happy to take you away from our tawdry little state.

Calel
Calel

I hear you, but I just don't think true Christians will be accepting of gay marriage. I can't speak for them, especially since I am already a little skeptical about religion myself. But the Christians I come into contact with believe in sin--whatever they believe is sin. And I can't see them compromising on that.

On another note, the Muslims I've come into contact with DON'T PLAY THAT AT ALL!! No way, gay marriage (or homosexuality) is in no way, shape, or for accepted in that religion. Not even for political expediency.

Calel
Calel

You are correct, but that "separation" thing you mentioned...do a little research and see how it came about. It's not in any founding documents.

Look, I think the bill was/is a bad idea. However, take a "pastor" like Al Sharpton, who supports gay marriage but says he's not performing any gay marriage ceremonies because, well, it's against his religion. Some business owners may want that same protection as Sharpton and other pastors. Personally, I see all money as green--I don't care where it comes from. But some people har deeply held religious values, uh, like Sharpton!

:-)

Calel
Calel

Bishop Paul Morton. I can't rememeber the date, but it was the late summer of '12.

honested
honested

@GB101 @honested 

To demonstrate my disdain for the ill advised effort to legislate a 'solution' for which there was no problem. 

If one is going to tamper with the Constitution, a very dire need should first be demonstrated. An effort to pander to the whim of a given religious community has no business being discussed much less included in the State Constitution. 

If it is open to such folly, why bother with a Constitution?

NWGAL
NWGAL

Love it or leave it? Works in both directions.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@LHardingDawg I think you missed ed's point. It would be a better place if you and the other bubbas left. Barring that, if you're going to stay, try to adapt to the 21st century..

honested
honested

@LHardingDawg  

Grew up here and I like it.

I just want to get back to a Government that is concerned about the Citizens rather than blinded by a failed ideology.

Calel
Calel

At some point a Christian should stand for something. It's perfectly legal for a man to cheat on his wife, but should a pastor support that being legal, or should he/she speak out against it? The same for premarital sex. Sure it's totally legal (within age restrictions), but should a pastor support that, or speak out against it?

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

It not that Christians have to relativists. They don't. Disapproving of conduct on religious grounds, but accepting that it may otherwise be legal is not relativism. To require all religious dogma to be codified is the opposite of religious freedom.

A good example would be the requirement by some religions that women cover their heads in public. When a religion accepts the legality of uncovered women's heads, it doesn't mean it is "approving" of the practice on religous grounds. They are still free to follow the tenets of their own faith.

Calel
Calel

@DekalbComments  


BTW, Churches SHOULD be accepting of members of the LGBT community! I'd question any church that turns people away for any reason. But I still think that many of those churches, excluding your own and many black churches, would be accepting of gay marriage or allow one to be performed in their sanctuary. Now there are denominations (and non-denominational churches) that are very accepting of the lifestyle, like the Episcopalians. And in my opinion, whether or not they're in support of gay marriage, they SHOULD be accepting of EVERYONE that steps through their doors. 

Calel
Calel

@DekalbComments  


No, not at all. You are what you believe you are. There is no litmus test for "true Christians," but let me explain what I meant. And I'm not a "churchy" person, so please tell me if and where I go wrong here. 


In MOST religions, there is a right and wrong path. There is good and evil. There is a Word and there are actions that in accordance with that Word, and actions that are against it. Most Christians (let's drop "true") would say that homosexuality is against God's Word. This is what I've heard for my entire life, but again, since I'm not greatly involved in the church or knowledgeable of the Word, please let me know if my interpretation of their words or belief is incorrect. So, if a Christian truly believes that homosexuality and marriage in that union is against God's Word, then how can one support it? If the above is true, then there should be no compromise; or, if there is a compromise, what else should a Christian be open to compromising? Should Christians compromise on pre-marital sex? Should they compromise on marriage fidelity? 


Is there anything that God and Christianity says is wrong and still is such? Or does God's Word evolve? Is God's Word stiff pair of shoes, or is it like spandex (dated myself there!), where we can wear it and have it adjust to OUR shape? 


I guess what I'm getting at is I've always been told the differences between right and wrong according to God's Word. So to me, and maybe I'm wrong, there has to be some wrong that can't be compromised. Or, is Christianity old fashioned and needs to modernized to accept certain behaviors and practices? I know of a few politicians who would LOVE to have infidelity accepted in the religion......


:-)


DekalbComments
DekalbComments

Calel, I love how conservative throw around the words "true Christians". I am a Christian. I belong to a very active and growing Christian denomination that welcomes LGBT members, allows openly gay clergy and blesses same gender unions. There is still some resistance, primarily among the > 60 population for marriage in the church but demographics suggest and within 10 years that prohibition will be lifted.

Are we not "true Christians" because we see the Bible as the inspired word of God but do not believe every word is to be taken literally for any number of reasons including issues with translation and source custody. As well we recognize that the Bible and any other religious texts must be understood in context, both historical, cultural and ethnical.

So what is the litmus test for "true Christians"? Is there a test I can purchase online or at the local CVS? Please do inform the readers. Inquiring minds want to know.

Calel
Calel

Did he support gay marriage?

:-)

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Some believe it's wrong to eat meat, others think a woman should not be in public without head covering. These are beliefs relating to religion. That some believe this doesn't make the conduct "illegal".

It is a mistake to see the homosexuality issue as the next Roe v Wade wedge. Just check the polls on the issue with 18-35 year olds.

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@Calel  

No you don't hear me nor the Bishop for that matter.  That Bishop's shoots down your original claim. 

He doesn't seem to be saying or implying anything close to wanting to keep a majority Republican House.  


Did he change his mind from the time he said what you are claiming?

honested
honested

@hamiltonAZ  

Just think of how much better 17th thru 20th century England or 14th thru 20th century Italy would have been without having an established church to 'approve' their various atrocities.

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Most of the early discussions tilted toward the establishment side of the issue. Early Americans were worried the state would try to raise a particular religion above others - they didn't want another Church of England.

Calel
Calel

Oh, I agree!! You're correct. I'm just saying that there are other peoe who want the same protections a pastor may have.

honested
honested

@Calel  

And by the way, I am quite familiar with why the 'Founders' wanted to keep the voices of religion out of all State enterprise.

honested
honested

@Calel  

I don't concern myself with the position of any 'pastor' on any issue.

When people are guided by imaginary voices and imaginary friends, there is little reason to look to them for advice.

Charles50
Charles50

@CherokeeCounty  You hit the nail on the head.  Blacks do think alike on many things, but also having differing opinions on others--particularly as it relates to this topic.  

Calel
Calel

I made that example to show how many blacks feel about the issue--support Obama, not gay marriage.

Calel
Calel

Insulting? Perhaps, but mark my words: when Obama is done, so too will be this so-called support for gay marriage by black Democrats. And I'm black.

In any case, my friend, trust me on this one. The majority of the black voting populace is church going. You'd be hard pressed to find one black pastor, outside of the political pastors, who will preach in favor of gay marriage. They don't do it. For the most part, they've remained silent on the issue. I know this guy is a HORRIBLE example to draw up now, but a few years ago, a certain "bishop" who pastors a huge, but dwindling, megachurch in Lithonia had a huge march through the streets of Atlanta, IN PART, to speak out against gay marriage. Listen, if you will, to black talk radio. You'll still hear a huge number of blacks who still voice a vocal opposition to gay marriage. My bet is that when Obama is done, the black support of the issue is done as well.

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@Calel Yet you referenced one black minister as if he did.


Seems you did the same thing you are cry about Galloway doing.


Pot meet kettle

Calel
Calel

And you won't, and I won't post it. It happened during a service, and I doubt those things are found on Google. But maybe you'll run into a member of his church.

:-)

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Not a black guy here (although there are a few in Cherokee!)

But I wonder if you get how insulting your comment is - the implication is that black people only support or oppose something because Obama does?

I imagine they have all kinds of opinions about lots of things, without checking first to see what Obama thinks about it...

Calel
Calel

No, but Galloway came to the conclusion that perhaps Obama and Reed do.

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@Calel  

I didn't find the actual quote using google.

Post it when you have the time. 

Thanks

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@LHardingDawg  

Psst:  Those aren't Milky Ways floating down the river towards Columbus.  Hope you don't eat too much of the fish caught in Harding. 

Just a Public Service Announcement for your own good

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@LHardingDawg  

Yet like Pavlov's dog, I post you whine.

So you either care or just not that smart

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

You are so mistaken! But when you are a "Nobody", nobody cares!

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@LHardingDawg You must be the exception.


I know many folks down there who I grew up with.


Based on your idiotic comments, they are nothing like you.  They are in the 21st century but you are not. 

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

I think the Columbus folks are fine in the 21st century. A beautiful downtown that is part of Columbus State University, a really fine river walk, a state of the art military museum, plus clean air and water.

Also, I'm to young to remember, but Columbus and Phenix City was really rocking in the 50's.

honested
honested

@LHardingDawg  

Don't get me wrong, I too oppose several deviant lifestyles that have been prevalent in Georgia:

Incest

Dating those under the age of consent

Familiarity with farm animals (what was the guy's name in the 2010 Congressional race who espoused that prediliction).

Attaching oneself to manufactured bigotry of the past might make you a 'bubba'.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Yeah well the rest of us have to put up with your anti Christian deviant lifestyle of hating the poor, refu\sing to follow clear Biblical teachings about our responsibility to those less fortunate that we are.

Get over it.

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

I did not miss the point, I just don't agree. And I'll never agree with the deviant lifestyle. If that makes me a bubba in your eyes, I could care less. Just because it's the 21st century doesn't mean anything.