Protests and marches unfolding across Georgia in recent days have refocused attention on the killings of black and transgender people. The demonstrations have also demanded state lawmakers take action against police brutality and hate crimes.
When they return to the State Capitol on Monday, lawmakers can address both.
House Bill 426 is an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes bill that would heighten penalties for crimes committed “because of the individual’s belief or perception” regarding the victim’s sexual orientation, gender, race, color, religion, national origin, mental disability or physical disability. House Bill 636 would require law enforcement agencies to report use of force incidents to a publicly available database.
Both bills were introduced in 2019. H.B. 426 passed the House but stalled in the Senate. H.B. 636 – from state Rep. Renitta Shannon, one of the state’s five LGBTQ lawmakers – was ignored by lawmakers.
In the next episode of Q Conversations – our live virtual event series – we’ll dig into the legislation, talk about why they are needed and explore the issues around the bills with Shannon, LGBTQ advocate Eric Paulk and state Rep. Park Cannon. We’ll also talk protests, how racial justice is an LGBTQ issue and answer your questions. Join the conversation on Friday, June 12 at noon. (The event is free but registration is required.)
Can’t make the event on Friday? Register here, and we’ll share a recording of the conversation that you can replay later.
The conversation will be hosted by Matt Hennie, the founder of Project Q and a longtime journalist who’s been covering LGBTQ Atlanta for two decades.
Cannon, an Atlanta Democrat, is the state representative for Georgia House District 58. Like Shannon, she is one of five LGBTQ lawmakers in the state legislature. The women’s health advocate was first elected to the state House in 2016 and later that year spoke at the Democratic National Convention. In the state House, Cannon has worked to further LGBTQ equality, oppose anti-gay legislation and improve HIV education and expand access to PrEP. In recent weeks, Cannon has been active in protests for racial justice and equality in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Paulk is the deputy director of Georgia Equality, lawyer and advocate working on issues impacting LGBTQ communities and communities of people living with and vulnerable to HIV acquisition. He oversees all day-to-day operations at Georgia Equality, developing and managing local, state, and federal policy and advocacy activities that advance equity and fairness for LGBTQ communities and improves public and private responses to the HIV epidemic. Paulk is a published author writing social commentary for outlets including Project Q Atlanta, Huffington Post, Atlanta Voice and Atlanta Daily World.
Shannon, a Decatur Democrat, is the state representative for Georgia House District 84. The community activist and former executive vice president of the Georgia chapter of the National Organization for Women won election to the District 84 seat in 2016. Shannon serves on the board of Spark Reproductive Justice and is the co-founder of Her Term, a Georgia-based effort recruiting and electing progressive women to office.
Register now and we’ll see you on Friday!
Photo (left to right): Renitta Shannon, Eric Paulk, Park Cannon