On February 23, the Georgia State Senate passed a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to work with same-sex couples.
The bill, SB 375, passed the senate 35 to 19 along party lines. While the bill’s sponsors and supporters claim SB 375 is about religious liberty, opponents say it will lead to state-sanctioned bigotry.
The bill was introduced by State Sen. William Ligon along with five additional legislative supporters: Sens. Jesse Stone, Steve Gooch, David Shafer, Greg Kirk and Jeff Mullis.
Ligon and several of his fellow lawmakers supporting the bill, however, have a track record of introducing other legislation steeped in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment.
In 2011, Mullis and Gooch co-sponsored SB 40, an anti-immigrant "show me your papers” bill modeled after Arizona’s draconian SB 1070, which forced local and state law enforcement agencies to carry out immigration enforcement actions. That same year, both senators co-sponsored an additional anti-immigrant bill, SB 104, which, among other things, sought to put a statewide ban on sanctuary jurisdictions.
In 2015, Ligon and Gooch co-sponsored SB 6 which sought to prevent undocumented citizens from obtaining driver’s license in the state of Georgia. The bill was championed by the Georgia-based anti-immigrant hate group the Dustin Inman Society.
Recently in 2017, Gooch, Mullis, and Shafer have co-sponsored legislation to make English the state’s official language. Bills designating English as the official language are promoted and supported by ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant hate group founded by white nationalist John Tanton.
Several lawmakers associated with SB 375 have also targeted Muslims, previously co-sponsoring “anti-Sharia” legislation aimed at supposedly preventing state courts from applying “foreign law.”
In 2011, Shafer, Gooch and Mullis co-sponsored SB 51, or the “American Laws for Georgia Courts Act.” The bill was based off of model legislation “American Laws for American Courts,” which has now passed in 14 states. The bills are promoted by anti-Muslim hate groups like American Public Policy Alliance and ACT for America. In 2012, Shafer also sponsored a draft ballot initiative, SR 926, which would change the Georgia state constitution to include a ban on foreign law.
Anti-sharia bills are unnecessary as there are already legal protections in place prohibiting any foreign law from superseding U.S. law. The mastermind behind anti-Sharia legislation is anti-Muslim activist and lawyer David Yerushalmi, who has admitted the bills are, above all else, about sowing fear of Islam among the general populace. He admitted as much during extended interviews with The New York Times in 2011, saying these bills are “hereustic” and meant “to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’”
SB 375 now heads to the Georgia State House of Representatives.