Gay Atlanta takes its Sunday Funday seriously. The cocktailing begins with brunch. And a Republican lawmaker hopes to be an unlikely ally in making your boozy brunch even better.
State Rep. Brett Harrell, a Republican from Snellville, is again pushing his House Bill 535, which would allow municipalities across Georgia to start serving alcohol on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. – two hours earlier than the current 12:30 p.m.
Earlier this year, the Sunday Brunch Bill passed the state House but got bogged down in the Senate Rules Committee. Harrell wants his legislation to see a floor vote in the Senate next year, he tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
“It’s still alive in the Senate,” Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, the measure’s chief sponsor, said at the Dec. 9 annual meeting of the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association. “I’ll work with the Senate lead and see if they’re willing to call it for a vote. I think if we put it on the floor, it will pass overwhelmingly.”
But moving the legislation in the Senate isn't a done deal. A powerful Senate lawmaker, Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, tells the ABC the bill faces objections from conservative activists. They pooh-poohed (and lost) opening Sundays to beer and wine sales in 2011 and aren't likely to relent on delivering two more hours for your gay brunch.
Yet, Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, said the bill would face opposition due to religious reasons. He said the restrictive hours were part of the original passage of the Sunday sales legislation that Gov. Nathan Deal signed in 2011.
“It was a long-time process to get Sunday sales of alcohol ... it was toughly negotiated,” Cowsert said at the Dec. 9 event. “We are a wholesome state. There are a lot of people that are going to oppose that, because they feel like someone is reneging on the deal.”
Business owners in downtown Atlanta want the expanded hours to boost sales and put them on equal footing with nearby state-owned facilities, including the Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome. They can sell booze at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.
Besides wanting boozier brunches, Harrell and Cowsert are also two of the Republicans who would like to quash – or at least add LGBT protections – to an anti-gay "religious freedom" bill that's also likely to resurface in the upcoming legislative session.
Photo by Sher Pruitt