Activists push Georgia lawmakers to end LGBTQ equality ‘crisis’

Add this share

With the days in the 2019 legislative session waning, faith leaders, business leaders and gay conservatives joined together to call on Georgia lawmakers to pass an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights bill.

The press conference was held at Central Presbyterian Church across the street from the state Capitol on Thursday. About 50 supporters were on hand as part of Georgia Equality’s LGBTQ Lobby Day. 

A broad civil rights bill that would protect LGBTQ people was introduced in January but has yet to gain any traction.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, cited a study by the Movement Advancement Project showing Georgia is one of only six states with a negative score on LGBTQ equality policies.

“That is practically a crisis,” he said. “Because we don’t just lack laws that protect us. Some of the laws in Georgia are actively hostile toward members of our community.”

Graham (top photo) noted that Georgia is one of only three states without a statewide nondiscrimination law that protects any class of people. He added that for the sixth year in a row, an anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bill was introduced

“Yes, the legislature can provide additional protections to people of faith, but they can do that through passing a comprehensive non-discrimination law that includes religion, race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status and sexual orientation and gender identity,” Graham said. “That’s the promise of Georgia. That’s the fairness that Georgians believe in.”

Rev. William Flippin of Emmanuel Lutheran Church called “religious freedom” bills “an affront to my faith.”

“As a pastor, it has been frustrating coming down to the Gold Dome year after year trying to explain to politicians that I do not want religion to be used as a tool for discrimination,” he said.

Flippin called on lawmakers “to protect everyone.”

“It has taken many years even in Georgia — the heart of the civil rights movement — to pass a state civil rights law that honors the legacy of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” he said. “But I hope that with our efforts, that we can convert Georgia to be the state that they claim to be.”

Sandy Mollett, president of the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said a statewide civil rights bill would attract business and talent to Georgia. 

“Even if you’ve never been fired because of who you are, LGBTQ people know that we’re vulnerable against discrimination in our daily lives and too many of us spend too much time looking over our shoulders in fear,” she said.

Marisa Pruitt DeRossett, a board member of Log Cabin Republicans, said the lack of protections makes Georgia “a very, very vulnerable place for people that are already vulnerable — the LGBTQ community.” She called for a bipartisan effort to pass a civil rights bill.

“The GOP has a choice, and the GOP has an opportunity to choose fairness over discrimination, hope over fear and freedom over oppression,” she said. “Discrimination is not a conservative value and does not stand with our beliefs in limited government, free markets, low taxes, personal responsibility and individual freedoms.”

This is the first year of a two-year legislative cycle, so House Bill 19 — the civil rights measure introduced in January — will carry over into 2020. Graham said he’s holding out hope for that or another bill to make legislative progress.

“It would be wonderful to have a bipartisan Republican-led bill be introduced in the final days of the legislative session or early 2020,” he said. “We never give up hope that we can do the right thing.”

THE LATEST

Project Q Atlanta goes on hiatus after 14 years

On Sept. 1, 2008, Project Q Atlanta promised a hyper-local “queer media diet” for Atlanta. The site set out to bring LGBTQ news, in-depth...

Photos catch Purple Dress Run invading Midtown

After three years of pandemic-inflicted limitations, Atlanta’s gay rugby squad let loose on one of its most popular events. The Atlanta Bucks Purple Dress...

Ooo Bearracuda: Photos from Bear Pride’s Main Event

The seventh annual Atlanta Bear Pride hit the ground running on Friday with packed houses at Woofs, Heretic and Future. Turned out, they hadn’t...

Atlanta Bear Pride set to go hard and long all weekend

That low, growing growl you hear is a nation of gay bears headed for Atlanta Bear Pride this weekend. By the time they arrive,...

PHOTOS: Armorettes bring back Easter Drag Race magic

Gay Atlanta’s queens of do-good drag brought the sunshine to a cloudy afternoon on Saturday when Heretic hosted the triumphant return of Armorettes Easter...
17,446FansLike
7,001FollowersFollow
7,682FollowersFollow

PHOTO GALLERIES