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After 10 Months of Advocacy, Athens-Clarke County Commissioners Approve Creation of Local Civil Rights Committee November 4, 2016

The movement for LGBT equality is taking a big step forward in Athens.

On Tuesday the Athens-Clarke County Commission voted 6-2 to give preliminary approval to the creation of the Athens Civil Rights Committee, which would provide guidance to the county on issues impacting human and civil rights, including those of LGBT people.

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According to the committee’s creation charter, it’s full scope would be to collect and analyze data on acts of harassment and discrimination, provide programming and educational content on these issues, and make periodic recommendations to the Mayor and other city and county officials. The committee is also tasked with monitoring government actions and policies.

Two local organizations, Athens for Everyone and the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, have been advocating for the committee’s creation for the last 10 months, after community members raised concerns about a lack of leadership in the greater Athens community on these kinds of issues, particularly on issues of LGBT equality.

After Tuesday’s victory Athens for Everyone President Tim Denson praised supporters’ unwavering commitment to this Athens Civil Rights Committee’s creation, as well as the passion with which they spoke out on Tuesday:

“Residents spoke out at the podium, in letters, emails, phone calls, research, and even in song. Those voices were too loud to be ignored and the Mayor and Commission, some reluctantly, had to answer their call. I think this victory speaks more to the legacy of the Athens people than it does to our County Commission.”

While Athens lacks an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, the creation of this committee is an important step forward. It will give LGBT residents of Athens and Clarke County a formal process through which to register complaints of discrimination and push for the creation of more inclusive laws and policies.

The resolution passed on Tuesday directs Athens-Clarke County officials to begin the process of creating the committee, which includes further consultation with community members. Officials will present their final plan for the committee in June 2017.

According to the committee’s creation charter, it’s full scope would be to collect and analyze data on acts of harassment and discrimination, provide programming and educational content on these issues, and make periodic recommendations to the Mayor and other city and county officials. The committee is also tasked with monitoring government actions and policies.

Two local organizations, Athens for Everyone and the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, have been advocating for the committee’s creation for the last 10 months, after community members raised concerns about a lack of leadership in the greater Athens community on these kinds of issues, particularly on issues of LGBT equality.

After Tuesday’s victory Athens for Everyone President Tim Denson praised supporters’ unwavering commitment to this Athens Civil Rights Committee’s creation, as well as the passion with which they spoke out on Tuesday:

“Residents spoke out at the podium, in letters, emails, phone calls, research, and even in song. Those voices were too loud to be ignored and the Mayor and Commission, some reluctantly, had to answer their call. I think this victory speaks more to the legacy of the Athens people than it does to our County Commission.”

While Athens lacks an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, the creation of this committee is an important step forward. It will give LGBT residents of Athens and Clarke County a formal process through which to register complaints of discrimination and push for the creation of more inclusive laws and policies.

The resolution passed on Tuesday directs Athens-Clarke County officials to begin the process of creating the committee, which includes further consultation with community members. Officials will present their final plan for the committee in June 2017.

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.@GovernorDeal & House leadership blast Senate for muddying HB159, urges the chamber to pass a clean bill: on-ajc.com/2n20ara #LGBT

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