GEORGIA -- A member of the Georgia General Assembly from the First Coast has proposed an amendment to state law that would make wearing a mask, hood, or device in a license, permit, or any identification photo, a misdemeanor-- for both men and women.
This adds to a law already in place that makes it a misdemeanor to wear any device that conceals identity in public, or even on private property without written consent. However, in the verbiage of the old bill only included the pronoun "he". The bill will cover both "he" and "she" pronouns.
A New York Times article from 1990, cites the law being passed to keep Klu Klux Klan members from wearing their hoods in public.
The gender-inclusive wording, and lack of religious exception, has brought criticism that it targets Muslim women who wear head/body coverings for religious and cultural reasons. The amendment also states it would ban anyone from wearing these head coverings while driving.
According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, typically nothing is allowed to be on or in the face of the driver will having their photo taken for their license or ID. However, exceptions are made for both religious and cultural garb like burqas, hijabs, etc.
The bill amendment was written by Rep. Jason Spencer, a state House member from Camden County. First Coast News has reached out to him for comment on the bill, but we have not heard back.
The current law makes the following exceptions, which does not apply to identification photos:
- A person wearing a traditional holiday costume on the occasion of the holiday;
- A person lawfully engaged in trade and employment or in a sporting activity where a mask is worn for the purpose of ensuring the physical safety of the wearer, or because of the nature of the occupation, trade, or profession, or sporting activity;
- A person using a mask in a theatrical production including use in Mardi gras celebrations and masquerade balls; or
- A person wearing a gas mask prescribed in emergency management drills and exercises or emergencies.
Though the bill was not written in such a way that specifically states that religious garb is the intention of this ban, it will affect women who wear these religious head/body wear out into the world.
If passed, it will prohibit women from wearing such articles in public. Burqas are worn to keep anyone but a woman's husband to see her body, it is also worn as a sign of virtue.
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