Georgia Free Exercise Protection Act (HB 757)
This law was last updated on Jan 2, 2019
HB 757 would allow businesses and individuals to withhold their services from LGBTQ people under the guise of religious freedom. The bill would also protect clergy members who refuse to perform certain marriage ceremonies.
The bill prohibits the government from forcing clergy members or religious practitioners to perform any marriages with which they have religious objections. The bill protects clergy members and religious organizations from civil action or loss of tax exemption if a member of the clergy refuses to participate in a marriage ceremony.
First Amendment Defense Act
HB 757 would prohibit local government from requiring businesses to operate on Saturdays or Sundays due to the fact they are considered days of rest for certain people of faith.
Under this bill, no faith based organization would be required to rent, lease, or otherwise grant permission for property to be used by another person for an event which is objectionable to such faith based organization.
Such an organization would also not be required to provide social, educational, or charitable services that violate their sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by its practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.
Under this bill, no faith based organization would be required to hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.
The bill protects faith based organizations from civil action or loss of tax exemption for any of the above actions.
The bill defines “faith based organization” to mean a church, a religious school, an association or convention of churches, a convention mission agency, or an integrated auxiliary of a church or convention or association of churches, when such entity qualifies as an exempt 501(c)(3) organization.
HB 757 would prohibit the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a law, rule, regulation, ordinance, or resolution of general applicability unless the government demonstrates that the application of such burden to a person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
The bill would allow a person to assert a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the government if their religious exercise has been burdened.
Passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Deal.