Kirk's defense act proposal raises concerns

Kirk's defense act proposal raises concerns
Chris Kaplan
Chris Kaplan
Carol Pyles
Carol Pyles

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Members of the LGBT community are speaking out against legislation proposed by a South Georgia State Senator which they say could lead to discrimination against same sex couples. Republican Senator Greg Kirk held a news conference in Atlanta about his First Amendment Defense Act.
He says it's aimed at defending traditional marriage.

The proposed legislation has some members of the gay community upset. They worry the bill opens the door for more discrimination.

Thursday, State Senator Greg Kirk announced the First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia, a proposal designed to protect Georgians from discrimination for believing in the traditional definition of marriage. Married same sex couple, Chris Kaplan and Rev. Carol Pyles fear it's an excuse to discriminate.

"I do feel it's enabling discrimination," said Chris Kaplan. "You know for freedom of religion, the religious organizations are already exempt there's no need to take it any further."

"It's opening up more doors for hatred and hatred is the last thing we need," said Rev. Carol Pyles. "We need to be producing and saying things and treating people out of love."

Kirk says the legislation would not challenge the same sex marriage decision ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. It would prohibit discriminatory acts towards taxes, employment and government benefits for their beliefs. Pyles believes it could hurt the progress that's being made in the state.

"It's opening up a lot of doors that were shut many many years ago that Martin Luther King, JFK , Abraham Lincoln fought for," said Pyles. "It's opening up doors for discrimination."

And creating a fear that it could go as far as to deny services to same-sex couples.

"I D.J. weddings and commitment ceremonies," said Kaplan. "I've seen where people were denied to possibly wedding cakes or photography because it turned out that they were gay."

Kirk said he made some changes to the original version of the bill to try to alleviate concerns about discrimination.
 He says the bill would not allow government officials to get away with not performing their duties.
 He has not officially introduced the bill, and he did not return WALB's call to give a clearer understanding of it.

Copyright 2016  WALB.  All rights reserved.