State lawmaker boycotts Braves, cites religious liberties bill

- One state lawmaker said he will not see a single Braves game this year--not even on television.

State Senator Josh McKoon, R -Columbus, announced his decision not to support the team ahead of their Opening Day game with the Nationals.

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"When I think about baseball, I think about American traditions," explained McKoon.  "For the Braves to have stood against religious freedom, I just felt like I needed to make that decision that I'm not going to spend money or support an organization that won't support basic civil liberties in our state."

The Braves were one of several local sports teams and corporations that spoke out in opposition to House Bill 757, the Free Exercise Protection Act.  The legislation would have shielded pastors from having to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their religious beliefs.  It also would have protected religious organizations like schools and charities from providing services that violated their religious views.

Many feared parts of the bill would have legalized discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the measure last week.

Fans who traveled to Turner Field for Opening Day had mixed feelings about McKoon's personal boycott of the team.

"This lawmaker--I don't understand what he's thinking.  He doesn't have to choose to support the Braves and the Braves don't have to choose to support that.  We choose to support the Braves," said Joy Coffee of Kennesaw.

McKoon, however, said by publicly opposing the bill, the team opened itself up to political criticism. 

"The Braves organization made it an issue when they decided to engage in this debate," said McKoon.  "I mean, I agree with most fans--I think the Atlanta Braves ought to be about playing baseball games and hopefully winning a few."

Sen. McKoon said he has not yet decided whether he will also boycott the Falcons and the Hawks.

"I started thinking about this because it was Opening Day.  I think probably the next time I go to the movies, I'll be thinking about this.  The next time I go to the grocery store, I'll be thinking about this.  So, you know, as that happens, you know, I'll make those decisions and I'll let people know," he explained.

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