Only several days ago, the Paulding County GOP posted a YouTube video of its Saturday, Aug. 15 gathering that featured state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus. During his address, McKoon spoke of S.B. 129, his “religious liberty” legislation embraced by many religious conservatives -- in large part as a means of protecting them from the implications of legalized gay marriage.
The measure has failed twice in the last two years. It is a sure topic of discussion in 2016. The problem, McKoon said, isn’t the LGBT lobby or Democrats. Watch:
“The Georgia Equalities of the world and Better Georgia – they don’t get a whole lot done at the Legislature. So why is it that we’ve had this problem?
“We’ve had this problem because very large multi-national corporations that are headquartered in this state – their executives, many of whom are not from Georgia, have different values than you and I do. They think that their cultural norms, their liberal, far-left cultural norms, should be applied to our state.
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“They think that they ought to be able to use the awesome power of government to do that. And that is why we have had the problem that we’ve had.
“When you have the CEO of Delta Air Lines saying that religious freedom is not in line with his company’s values, we’ve got a serious disconnect. We’ve got a serious problem.
“…When you start telling me that our individual civil liberties are somehow a business issue, we’re going to have a serious problem.”
Watch McKoon's entire presentation here. Regardless of how you come down on the issue, the above is a remarkably blunt assessment of the business-base split now afflicting the Georgia GOP.
Better Georgia, the left-leaning advocacy group that McKoon mentioned above, offered this response:
“We know from talking with Republican and Democratic legislators who stopped Sen. McKoon’s bill that they listened to constituents in their home districts. Their constituents overwhelmingly oppose Sen. McKoon’s bill, which would be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.”
Speaking of culture. After much debate, and an appeal by the local NAACP, school officials decided to keep using the nickname "Rebels" at Effingham County High School on Georgia's coast.
But they made a concession. The Savannah Morning News reports that the school "will make sure that sports uniforms have an “E” rather than a caricature of a Confederate soldier."
The disturbing killings of a television news reporter and photographer in Roanoke, Va., sparked a swift reply from Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, on the need for gun control. Lewis' statement:
"I am shocked to hear that a dedicated reporter and cameraman, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, could be shot in broad daylight while they were simply trying to report a human interest story in Moneta, Virginia. My thoughts are with their colleagues and their loved ones on this day.
"This is a very, very sad, all too frequent tragedy. There are just too many guns available in this country that get into the hands of sick people, angry people, and irresponsible people.
"How many more deaths will it take for us to finally take some reasonable action against this kind of wanton violence? We send troops to fight enemies on foreign soil, but somehow we cannot find the courage or the will to answer unchecked violence here at home. This is the most violent Western nation in the world. How many more innocent people will be murdered before we are finally provoked to do all we can about the proliferation of guns in our society?
Lewis also weighed in on the death of a civil rights movement legend: Amelia Boynton Robinson. From the New York Times obituary about the woman who helped organize the "Bloody Sunday" Selma march:
Walking near the front of the line and subject to the full force of the troopers’ blows, Mrs. Boynton Robinson, then known as Amelia Boynton, was knocked unconscious. One widely reproduced press photograph shows her lying insensible on the ground with a white officer standing over her, nightstick in hand. Another shows a fellow marcher taking her in his arms and struggling to lift her up.
News coverage of Bloody Sunday — in which at least 17 demonstrators, including Mrs. Boynton Robinson, were hospitalized — was considered pivotal in winning wide popular support for the civil rights movement. After her release, Mrs. Boynton Robinson was a guest of honor at the White House on Aug. 6, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the federal Voting Rights Act into law, an event seen as a direct consequence of the marches.
Lewis, who was also beaten that day, had this to say:
"This nation has lost a crusader, a warrior, and a fighter for justice. She was one of the most dependable, reliable leaders to stand up for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama and in the American South. ...
"It was a great pleasure to get to know her and to work with her in our grassroots effort to transform America. Amelia Boynton Robinson never got weary. She never gave up. She never gave in. She kept the faith. She kept on defending the need to respect human dignity in America. Her work and her accomplishments were a source of inspiration for so many people in the South and around our country."
Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway have written letters to Georgia's senators opposing Dax Lopez for a federal judgeship, according to a report from InsiderAdvantage.
Lopez, a judge in DeKalb County, was nominated by President Barack Obama in July to serve in the Northern District of Georgia. He would be Georgia's first Hispanic lifetime-appointed federal judge.
Though he was appointed to the state bench by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lopez has garnered opposition from conservative activists for his position on the board of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, which takes a liberal stance on immigration laws.
Georgia Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue have said they will meet with Lopez and have not committed one way or another to his nomination. Through the "blue slip" system, they serve as de facto gatekeepers to Senate confirmation.
Holland & Knight, the law and governmental affair firm, informs us that it has hired Jeremy Collins, formerly chief of staff to state Senate President pro tem David Shafer, R-Buford, as a senior public affairs adviser. Collins previously the political director for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign and then served as Gov. Deal’s liaison to the state Senate.
Over at Creative Loafing, Thomas Wheatley has identified a new target for next year’s Legislature:
Last year, Georgia lawmakers slapped regulations on ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft. Airbnb, a Silicon Valley darling valued at more than $25 billion, escaped scrutiny. But the state's hotel and motel lobby is pushing for increased regulations on the online businesses that are sluicing away small streams of their revenue. Starting next month, state lawmakers will begin a series of meetings aimed at studying the industry, a process that could result in legislation regulating Airbnb and other websites that have made non-traditional traveling easier than ever.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's wife is in town the next few days to meet with her husband's supporters. Ginger Howard, the Republican's top operative here, said Anita Perry will visit her Buckhead office at 5:30 this evening.