As LGBT equality moves forward in the country, opponents work diligently to find loopholes to avoid recognizing gay marriage, or extending the same courtesies and rights they enjoy to the LGBT community. One of the favorite methods to come out this pushback is to mask discriminatory legislation as “religious freedom.” Georgia is one of the latest states to mask their anti-gay bill as a practice in freedom, but Sir Elton John is trying to put a stop to it.
The renowned singer and philanthropist published on op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution worrying that this bill “encourages the same discrimination that’s haunted the South for too long.” John recalls a time shortly after he moved to Atlanta in 1990, when the country was embroiled in the AIDS crisis and friends of his couldn’t get treatment because of the overwhelming stigma that surrounded the disease. He praises the progress that’s been made but admits there is still far to go, citing the high rate of HIV/AIDS in LGBT people of color and low-income people, especially in the South.
"That’s why I’m so opposed to SB 129.
"Simply put, this bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It promises religious freedom, but let’s be clear: No one’s religious freedom is at risk! Both the Georgia Constitution and U.S. Constitution very explicitly protect this right.
"What SB 129 will really do is institutionalize the hate some people hold in their hearts against other people. It will turn back the clock on the progress we have made — not only in the fight against HIV, but also in the struggle for a more equal and just society.
John explicitly states that he isn’t opposed to religious freedom in any capacity, and raises the point that it’s already protected under the state and federal constitution."
Read the full op-ed here.