Senator Greg Kirk, sponsor of the “First Amendment Defense Act” which became part of HB 757 when attached to the less controversial Pastor Protection Act, has decided that he is “moving on” with respect to sponsorship of religious freedom bills in next year’s General Assembly. As reported by Jill Nolan in the Dalton Citizen, Kirk says of the current vetoed bill:
“I respectfully disagree with Gov. Deal’s decision,” he said of the expanded bill that would have shielded clergy from being forced to officiate at same-sex weddings and would have protected individuals from being required to attend weddings.
Also, it created stricter standards for government interference in a person’s religious practice, while allowing faith groups to deny services to individuals unless they had a contractual agreement with the government that said otherwise.
Kirk, a first-term senator and former Baptist minister, said the bill was “deliberately drawn” and wasn’t discriminatory.
“In my opinion, the governor gave into bullying,” he said.
Kirk’s decision to focus on other legislation does not mean attempts at passing a religious freedom bill are dead, but it does mean that there will likely be new faces attached to the movement. Perhaps other sponsor(s) may also realize that while their leadership tenure was 40 years (or three sessions) of wandering in the desert, perhaps a Joshua needs to be located to deliver the bill into the promised land of a Governor’s signature.