"Legal experts from across the political spectrum agree that this bill could open the door for discrimination"
A vote of 37-15, the Georgia Senate passed a bill allowing people to use their religion to challenge or opt out of various laws - including local laws in Atlanta and other cities - that protect LGBT people and other minorities from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
In practical terms, S.B. 129 could allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples, a paramedic to refuse to provide life-saving services to an LGBT person, or a school counselor to refuse services to an LGBT teenager. The bill puts minority groups at risk of being denied service everywhere from the convenience store to the doctor’s office.
“This bill is a reprehensible attack on LGBT people and their families in Georgia,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “It does not address any legitimate problem with current law and creates harmful consequences for businesses throughout the state. It threatens not just the LGBT community, but women, members of minority faiths and other minority classes. All Georgians deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and we need all fair-minded people in the state to help stop this bill.”
"It's disappointing that the Senate voted for such a divisive and unneeded piece of legislation,” said Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham. “Legal experts from across the political spectrum agree that this bill could open the door for discrimination. And if this is not about creating a license to discriminate, why would they work so hard to prevent language that would clarify that from being added to the bill. The actions today will have a chilling effect on Georgia's reputation and send a message of intolerance to the next generation."
Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, a joint project of HRC and Georgia Equality, has been actively working to stop this bill since it was filed and continues to have grave concerns about its impact on LGBT Georgians, the Georgia economy, and other minorities groups. A companion bill has been filed in the Georgia House of Representatives and referred to the House Judiciary Committee but has not yet received a hearing. The Georgia legislative session ends on April 2.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
Georgia Equality is an organization working to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and our allies throughout the state.
Georgia Unites Against Discrimination is a bipartisan grassroots campaign dedicated to protecting gay and transgender Georgians from discrimination and ensuring that individuals and businesses aren’t able to use their religious beliefs to harm others.
The LGBT pride flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. It was originally called the Freedom Flag and was comprised of 8 colored stripes, each denoting a different meaning.