The Atlanta City Council called anti-gay "religious freedom" legislation being considered by state lawmakers a threat to the city and asked lawmakers and Gov. Nathan Deal to defeat the bills.
The opposition to the legislation – focused on House Bill 757 and Senate Bill 129 – came in a resolution the City Council passed on Monday. The measure from City Council members Mary Norwood (photo) and Alex Wan (photo), who is gay, was co-signed by Council members Yolanda Adrean, Natalyn Archibong, Michael Julian Bond, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Andre Dickens, Kwanza Hall, Felicia Moore, Howard Shook, Carla Smith and Ivory Lee Young, Jr.
The measure passed 12-0, though Council members Hall, Archibong and Joyce Sheperd, along with Council President Ceasar Mitchell, did not cast a vote.
Norwood said the legislation strikes against the reputation of the city as a place for "inclusion, equality, and fairness." House Bill 757 would allow faith-based organizations to discriminate against LGBT people and threaten LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in cities across the state, including Atlanta.
“I join Governor Nathan Deal, businesses all across Georgia, the LGBT Community and all Georgians who know that as Georgians we must stand for inclusion, equality, and fairness for all,” Norwood said in a prepared statement. “As a Citywide representative of our capital city, I understand how important it is to have a welcoming environment for everyone who lives, work in, play in or visits our capital city and other communities throughout our great state. Our recent successes in corporate relocations as well as our every expanding tourism businesses are predicated on knowing that Atlanta and all of Georgia welcomes them and embraces them.”
“This is what sets Georgia and Atlanta apart and makes us a world-class environment, taking our place on the world stage. We cannot go backwards; we cannot afford to have discrimination in any form – under any guise – as the law of our State. Our future is too important,” Norwood added.
The opposition from the Atlanta City Council is the latest in a growing backlash to House Bill 757. Delta's incoming CEO delivered a smack down of the bill on Friday, after Gov. Nathan Deal issued his strongest statement yet against the legislation.
The full resolution, via Georgia Voice:
A RESOLUTION BY COUNCIL MEMBERS MARY NORWOOD AND ALEX WAN
A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE CITY OF ATLANTA’S OPPOSITION TO HOUSE BILL 757 AND SENATE BILL 129 OR ANY OTHER LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ENSHRINE DISCRIMINATION INTO GEORGIA LAW; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
WHEREAS, the City of Atlanta (the “City”) is known throughout the world as a tolerant “International City”, serving as a host city for the Olympic Games, the City that is “too busy to hate”, and the City with one of the largest Pride celebrations in the United States; and
WHEREAS, the Georgia General Assembly is considering several pieces of discriminatory legislation that would negatively harm Georgia’s and Atlanta’s vibrant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (“LGBT”) Community, such as House Bill 757 which was known in the State House as the “Pastor Protection Act” and was merged in the State Senate with the controversial “First Amendment Defense Act” and last year’s Senate Bill 129 which is commonly known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”; and
WHEREAS, a diverse coalition of over 400 businesses across Georgia, many located in the City of Atlanta and on the Fortune 500 list, have signed a petition to the Georgia General Assembly and Governor opposing Senate Bill 129 and House Bill 757 or any other legislation that would allow discrimination against the LGBT community under the guise of “religious liberty”; and
WHEREAS, the City’s recent successes in corporate relocations as well as an ever expanding tourism business are predicated on knowing that Atlanta and all of Georgia welcomes them and embraces them; and
WHEREAS, these two pieces of legislation also pose a risk to our City and State’s reputation as an international business hub, our growing reputation as the “Hollywood of the South”, and our thriving convention and hospitality industry; and
WHEREAS, on Wednesday, March 2, Georgia Unites Against Discrimination a bipartisan grassroots campaign dedicated to protecting LGBT Georgians from discrimination delivered a petition with over 75,000 signatures opposing any efforts to enshrine discrimination in Georgia Law to the Governor; and
WHEREAS, three days after the 75,000 letters were delivered, Gov. Nathan Deal released his strongest statement yet against the so-called ‘religious-liberty’ bills, saying he would reject any bill legalizing discrimination; and
WHEREAS, the Atlanta City Council would like to join Governor Nathan Deal and other reasonable voices in opposition to Senate Bill 129, House Bill 757, or any other discriminatory legislation that sends a message that Georgia isn’t the best place to live, work, and do business for all people.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA, requests that the Georgia General Assembly defeat and/or the Governor Veto House Bill 757 (“Exhibit A”) and Senate Bill 129 (“Exhibit B”) so that Georgia can remain a welcoming place with a reputation as the best place to work, visit, and do business.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Municipal Clerk shall distribute a true copy of this Resolution to the Governor, Lt. Governor, and all Members of the Georgia General Assembly.