Georgia lawmakers pass bill shielding gay marriage opponents

AP News
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Posted: Mar 16, 2016 8:20 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers have sent a contentious bill protecting same-sex marriage opponents to Gov. Nathan Deal.

The proposal unveiled Wednesday seeks to resolve years of heated debate concerns that various bills shielding religious people would excuse discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

But gay-rights advocates blasted the bill as discriminatory.

The changes approved by the House and Senate would prevent government burden of religious belief and government penalty against faith-based organizations, including refusal to serve or hire someone. It also protects religious officials who decline performing gay marriages.

A previous Senate version prevented any government penalty for individuals or organizations that refuse service to couples based on a religious belief about marriage.

Business groups warned that version would be seen as discriminatory, sending lawmakers in search of a fix.