ATL business group pledges to fight anti-gay bills

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The Metro Atlanta Chamber ­– a business group influential in fighting anti-gay “religious freedom” legislation – offered a bit of advice to Georgia lawmakers: Don’t even bother with it in 2017.

Top chamber officials drew their line in the sand on Wednesday, warning lawmakers that the business coalition will oppose any legislation that discriminates against LGBT people – or anyone. Via the AJC:

SunTrust Banks Executive Vice President Jenner Wood, outgoing chairman of the chamber’s board, said Wednesday that the conversation alone over the legislation, which critics deride as discriminatory toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, damages the state’s reputation and economic progress.

Wood offered even more clarity about the group’s position. Via WABE:

“We are not supportive of any bill that in any way would discriminate in any way against any person,” Wood said. “We’ve said that for three years now.”

Wood said the Chamber is prepared to fight “religious freedom” legislation again. Via WABE:

“There are lots of companies that were very close to going to Charlotte that are not going to Charlotte and we know that for a fact,” Wood said. “It has had a really damaging impact on the state of North Carolina and I think that a lot of people that represent their constituents here in Georgia have seen that and they don’t want the same thing to happen.”

The legislation impacts the recruitment of employees, Chamber leaders said. Via WABE:

“As a global recruiter, having a really diverse workforce allows me to try to attract the best and brightest people to Atlanta so you don’t want any kind of overhang that they’re not welcome here,” said Jeff Sprecher, founder of the Intercontinental Exchange and the 2017 MAC Chair-elect.

Sprecher’s company also owns the New York Stock Exchange.

Earlier this year, conservative Republican lawmakers proposed a host of anti-LGBT legislation. In March, portions of three of those bills were morphed into House Bill 757, which then quickly passed the House and Senate. The measure intensified a national controversy before Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it.

But the veto – and the Chamber’s threat to again fight the legislation – haven't slowed supporters of it. GOP lawmakers have promised to revisit the legislation in 2017 and are already plotting how to pass it. The anti-LGBT assault is also likely to include legislation aimed at transgender people, similar to legislation in North Carolina.

[Jenner Wood photo via]


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