ATLANTA – Hundreds of fair-minded Georgians gathered this afternoon at the State Capitol to stand in opposition to SB 129, a bill that targets LGBT people and also threatens to undermine all existing state civil rights law. The bill would allow 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. The bill cleared the Senate two weeks ago and is now sitting in the House.
“It was incredible to see so many energetic people come out today and stand united in opposition to this discriminatory bill,” said Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham. “We had a positive message today about the kind of future we want for Georgia. We envision a future where we’re both protecting religious freedom and protecting people from discrimination. That’s how our state will ultimately prosper – not by passing unnecessary and divisive bills that single out people for harm.”
“Everyone who turned out to rally against this bill today sent a very powerful message to our representatives: we’re not going to let you pass a mean-spirited and unnecessary bill without putting up a fight,” said Brad DiFiore, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Board of Governors member and Atlanta Co-Chair, who spoke at today’s rally. “The eyes of the LGBT community and our allies nationwide are on Georgia right now. This isn’t just about Georgia – it’s about similarly deceptive bills in other states, where a small handful seek to thwart the growing tide of equality with archaic and discriminatory legislation. We won’t stand for discrimination here in Georgia, and we won’t stand for it anywhere else in our country.”
The rally showcased the broad coalition opposing the legislation – participants included faith leaders, young conservatives, and small business owners. In addition to Georgia Equality and the Human Rights Campaign, today’s event also featured conservatives like David Bachman, president and owner of the Neck Candy Tie Co.; Macon Circuit District Attorney David Cooke; and Rev. Tim McDonald and Rabbi Joshua Heller, who represented the more than 200 faith voices who have spoken out against the legislation.
It was the latest high-profile show of opposition to the bill. In late February, Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, a lifelong conservative, called the legislationnothing more than an “unequivocal excuse to discriminate.” More recently, Elton John weighed in, calling the bill “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
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. Rep. Sam Teasley has abandoned his companion bill to SB 129, to instead focus on getting the Senate-passed version through the House. The clock is ticking: 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.
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