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From Age 3 to 30: Coming Out as Transgender James Sheffield ~ Atlanta, Georgia

Governor rejects HB 757 following historic national backlash against discriminatory bill

ATLANTA – Governor Deal announced this morning that he intends to veto HB 757, the License to Discriminate legislation which rocketed to national infamy as businesses, the entertainment industry, professional sports leagues, religious and civil rights leaders, conservatives, legal experts and many others spoke out against the proposed bill.

“We thank Governor Deal for doing the right thing and rejecting this dangerous bill which would have caused irreparable harm to Georgia’s economy, and to the hundreds of thousands of hardworking LGBT people who call Georgia home,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. “On more than one occasion, the governor thoughtfully explained his opposition to discriminatory bills like this – bills which do nothing to advance religious freedom, but do stand to do real harm to our state’s economy and reputation.”

The national backlash to HB 757 began immediately after the Senate initially passed an earlier version of the bill last month. That backlash intensified when lawmakers sent the governor a new version of the bill several weeks ago that kept intact – and in some places even strengthened – some of the bill’s most discriminatory measures.

The Georgia Unites Against Discrimination coalition brought together a diverse array of voices to speak out against the bill, including faith and civil rights leaders. Georgia Republicans for the Future highlighted conservatives from all across the state who rejected discriminatory measures like HB 757, and supported moving Georgia forward through comprehensive nondiscrimination protections. And more than 500 businesses joined the Georgia Prospers coalition, all opposing the License to Discriminate legislation. Members of the Georgia Prospers coalition include AT&T, Bank of America, Deloitte, Delta, Dow Chemical, EquiFax, Facebook, First Data, the Georgia Restaurant Association, Google, Home Depot, Marriott, PNC, Porsche, SunTrust, Turner, United, UPS, Verizon and WellsFargo.

The entertainment industry also quickly weighed in, making it clear that HB 757 jeopardized all the hard work that has gone into growing Georgia’s status as a thriving production destination in recent years. Disney and Marvel said they would leave the state altogether should the bill become law, while myriad other studios and production companies also spoke out in opposition.

“Governor Deal has invested a great deal of leadership into growing Georgia’s economy and ensuring our state remains a great place to do business and a raise a family. The governor’s veto today protects Georgia’s economy and its brand,” added Graham. “But our work is far from over – the dialogue over HB 757 offered a profound reminder that LGBT people still are not covered by any state-level nondiscrimination laws. While we’re enjoying today’s hard-fought victory, we’ll continue working to ensure every single Georgian is protected from discrimination.”

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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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