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From a Shield to a Weapon: How Georgia’s RFRA Bill Uses Religion as Justification for Harm Rev Cameron Trimble ~ Atlanta, GA
Discriminatory Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Advances to Full Senate February 20, 2018

Business leaders warn SB 375 could damage state’s brand as Atlanta seeks to land Amazon HQ2

ATLANTA – SB 375, an anti-LGBT “License to Discriminate” bill that would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples, advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this morning. The bill could come before the full Senate as early as tomorrow.

“There are no winners with SB 375,” said Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality’s Executive Director. “This bill does not help the thousands of young people in our state’s adoption and foster care system. It does not help loving parents who are looking to open their homes to children in need, either through fostering or adoption. It does not help our state’s economic image – particularly at this crucial juncture in our bid to bring up to 50,000 new and high-paying jobs to our state through Amazon. There are only losers with this bill: children denied permanent and loving homes, and potential parents coldly turned away simply because of who they are.”

Business leaders are among those speaking out against the legislation. Among the businesses opposed is First Data, the global commerce giant with headquarters in Atlanta.

“First Data is based in Atlanta and we are proud to call Georgia home. However, we are strongly opposed to SB 375, the proposed legislation in Georgia that we believe perpetuates discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Cindy Armine-Klein, First Data’s Chief Control Officer. “First Data is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace that promotes fairness and diversity, and the proposed legislation violates our core belief that all Americans deserve to be treated equally and respectfully.”

The Metro Chamber and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce also oppose SB 375. The chambers have said: “Legislation that sanctions discrimination takes us further away from our goal of attracting investment that would improve the lives of Georgia families.” The legislation is under consideration while Amazon decides whether to build their new HQ2 – which could bring up to 50,000 new high-paying jobs – in Atlanta.

There are currently approximately 13,000 youth in Georgia’s child welfare system. Religiously affiliated adoption agencies already can work with potential parents and families that align with specific religious beliefs – but SB 375 would allow taxpayer-funded agencies to deny service to same-sex couples, as well. The bill also would allow publicly funded agencies to refuse services to youth who identify as LGBT.

“Georgia is being tugged in two very different directions at the moment, and lawmakers in the Senate should pause before advancing this bill,” added Graham. “We have an opportunity to continue strengthening our state’s brand by enacting welcoming and inclusive policies that protect everyone from discrimination, or we can codify discriminatory practices that hurt Georgia’s kids, hobble our communities, and stagnate our economy.”

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#ICYMI: Constituents are making themselves heard & they're saying: No #LicenseToDiscriminate in GA! #RFRA is bad for our communities & bad for our economy. #GApol twitter.com/GAEquality/sta…

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