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religious freedom bill ga

Tracy Robillard / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah, flickr.com/savannahcorps

Gov. Nathan Deal called out lawmakers Wednesday who might try to block his legislative agenda next year after his veto of a controversial religious exemptions bill.

“For those who hold grudges, let me ask ‘em this: instead of having rhetoric, why don't we have examples?” he said. “Nobody has ever, yet, provided me with one clear example of anything that has occurred in the state of Georgia that the RFRA bill [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] would have prevented.”

House members work during the House's session on the final day of the 2015 legislative session, Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

There are now a total of six bills in the Georgia Legislature all meant to exempt people from certain laws based on their religious beliefs.

In an election year, the issue has the state Republican Party divided on how to appeal to Christian conservatives and business interests.

“We have to balance everyone’s rights,” says Rep. Kevin Tanner (R–Dawsonville). He’s the sponsor of a bill supporters call the Pastor Protection Act. It affirms a clergy's First Amendment right to refuse to marry a same-sex couple.

Andre Penner / AP Photo

Wednesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee, May, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson said Thursday that laws addressing conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious freedom should be left to Congress and the federal government.

Last year, Isakson and Georgia's other senator, Republican David Perdue, co-sponsored a bill called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which was designed to protect people who act on their religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

Brenna Beech / WABE

A new bill from Republican state Sen. Greg Kirk of Americus would protect public employees who object to same-sex marriage, but at this point even its sponsor said he is uncertain exactly how far those protections will extend throughout Georgia governments.

Kirk said the bill would protect individuals who do not want to issue marriage licenses based on their religious beliefs, but he is not sure whether the bill he plans to make official next week will affect employees who issue death certificates or certain tax benefits.

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