Life, liberty and the pursuit of equality

Skyler Black

Georgia is going through a midlife crisis this year. With the passage of multiple bills through the House and Senate, the Georgia government has created both the possibility of campus carry and a religious freedom bill, both of which are now sitting on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk waiting to be signed. According to the House Bill 757, or Religious Liberty Bill, it would allow pastors to refuse to marry same-sex couples, permit churches to refuse to host events for anyone that doesn’t share their beliefs and allow employers to deny hiring someone for the same reason.

The idea that the state has the ability to restrict the basic rights of human beings is appalling. I do understand that individuals have the right to believe what they what to believe and I understand that same-sex couples and people that don’t share a group’s beliefs go against the stance of that group. I am not saying that these religious groups don’t have the right to believe what they believe. What I am saying is that this bill is creating the idea that homosexuals are second class citizens. They are having the rights of marriage taken away from them eight months after the Supreme Court ruling of marriage equality.

Georgia has been against the marriage of same-sex couples for many years before this bill. In 1996 following the Defense of Marriage Act, Georgia had same-sex marriage banned in both the constitutional and state level, according to ProCon.org. This new bill isn’t a change for the state of Georgia.

The negative responses to this bill have been accusing the bill of being discriminatory towards homosexuals. I have to agree with the Human Rights Campaign, National Football League and Apple, all of which have voiced concern over the bill. Our generation has to be one that emphasizes tolerance and inclusiveness. This has to start at the governmental level if it is going to happen at all. When the government that represents the people discriminates towards a portion of people that they are representing, there is a disturbing problem.

With the passage of this bill, the Georgia government will be taking a step backwards from the progress that our country has gained through the years. Men and women that have different beliefs and lifestyles will be turned away from groups supported by the state government and that is horrifying.

The Georgia Southern community is directly affected by the passing of this law and our students should voice their opinions throughout the proper forums. Many individuals wanted to voice their opinion and how they believed it would affect them.

Do you think this bill should pass and why?

Xxavier Robertson, junior film and production major

I think that certain aspects of the bill are a good idea and certain aspects are not. I would say the preservation of certain things like if someone wants to participate in same-sex marriage they have the right to do so because they are a person. But at the same time you can’t force certain religions to conform to that because they are two sides of the same spectrum. A lot of people try to say that you try to force LGBT down some people’s throats and some people don’t want to hear that. At the same time, some people want to force anti-gay down people’s throats and that’s not the way it’s done either. I feel like there should be a compromise on the bill. I don’t think that it should be passed.

Sasha Phillip, senior multimedia journalism major

I don’t support it. Anything that segregates other people, I’m not for. I feel like that we have got by and have gotten better as a nation and I feel like we should keep going forward instead of continuing backwards and letting people feel outcasted in some type of way. So anything that is against any type of human being I am not for.

Grace McGoldrick, senior public health major

No I don’t [support the bill]. Just because I feel like they’re not letting everyone have their own point of view. It’s kind of taking that away and freedom of speech and that whole thing. I don’t know it’s like keeping people away from other opinions and keeping them really sheltered and that is an issue.