Alabama’s Fork in the Road Moment: Enshrine Discrimination or Embrace Equality

by HRC Staff

MONTGOMERY— Today, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee advanced HB 56, a dangerous anti-LGBT bill that would allow probate judges and public officials to refuse to solemnize marriages on religious grounds. Legislators also introduced HB 657, which intentionally fails to include LGBT Alabamians from being protected simply because of who they are or whom they love. These actions come in stark contrast to HB 615, a piece of pro-equality legislation introduced earlier this month that would strengthen the state’s economy and embrace Alabama’s values of equality, fairness and respect for all. HRC Alabama encourages legislators to abandon measures aimed to discriminate and pass HB 615 to protect all Alabamians.

“HB 56 is shameful, vicious, and would directly write discrimination into Alabama state law,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Alabama’s legislature has a clear choice: pull the state backwards by advancing disgraceful anti-LGBT legislation, or move Alabama forward by supporting common sense legislation that would bring greater equality to millions of Alabamians.  Passing HB 615 would show the nation and the world that Alabama’s future is bright and includes greater equality for all of its citizens.”

HB 615, sponsored by Rep. Chris England, would explicitly prohibit discrimination under state law on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or familial status. The bill would establish critical new protections in employment, public accommodations, credit transactions, and accessing the right to vote for each of those categories; and in housing for sexual orientation and gender identity.

This legislation would enhance Alabama's ability to attract new private-sector investment.  CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and other prominent corporate leaders have consistently stated that ensuring equality in the workplace is an important factor in recruiting, hiring, and retaining top talent.  Barring all types of discrimination against all of Alabama’s workers will improve the chances of Alabama businesses to compete for the best and brightest around the country and the world.

HRC Alabama is working to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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