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Transgender Law Enforcement Officer Finds Community Acceptance, But Says That Can’t Replace Legal Protections Anna Lange ~ Central Georgia
Georgia Unites Condemns House Passage of Dangerous License to Discriminate Legislation March 16, 2016

Latest version of anti-LGBT legislation adds new religious refusal protections and threatens local nondiscrimination ordinances

ATLANTA – The Georgia House voted this evening to advance an amended version of HB 757, the broad License to Discriminate legislation which provoked widespread national backlash when it passed the Senate last month. The amended version of the legislation allows faith-based, taxpayer-funded organizations to deny critical services or even employment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and others based on a wide range of religious beliefs, not simply those related to marriage equality. For example, soup kitchens could turn away a single mother and her three children, or a homeless shelter could turn away LGBT youth.

The revised legislation also includes a new religious exemptions component which stands to undermine existing local nondiscrimination ordinances already on the books across the state. These dangerous new provisions could allow individuals and organizations to pick and choose which laws they want to follow, in the process threatening the enforcement of laws meant to protect public health, religious minorities, children, victims of domestic abuse, LGBT Georgians and others.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, issued the following statement through the Georgia Unites coalition:

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an unprecedented chorus of unexpected allies come together to speak out against HB 757, the License to Discriminate. Conservatives, legal experts, people of faith, businesses and more than 75,000 Georgians expressed their strong opposition to legislation which threatens our state’s economy and reputation, and which very clearly singles out LGBT people and others for harm. It’s shameful that lawmakers in the House ignored this feedback and, rather than taking steps to mitigate any potential fallout, actually made a bad bill worse.

“Make no mistake about it – this is legislation that singles out LGBT Georgians, single mothers, religious minorities and so many others for discrimination. This bill will have immediate and severe consequences for our state.

“Governor Deal spoke in very eloquent terms about his opposition to HB 757 earlier this month, and I hope the governor understands that this amended legislation is worse than the previous version he spoke out about. The HB 757 which passed the House tonight will undoubtedly harm our economy and our state’s reputation. Governor Deal should hold true to his earlier opposition and veto this harmful, discriminatory bill.”

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We were so grateful to be able to profile Rachel last year. Her story is inspiring and it's sad to see her treated unfairly. Thank you Rachel for standing up for yourself!

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