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When Discrimination Happens to You: One couple shares their story, calls for protections Jake Moore & Amber Paoloemilio
“GA Equality’ Launches ‘GA Unites’ Campaign to Oppose Discriminatory Legislation January 20, 2015

LGBT Community Fights Back Against So-called Religious Liberty Bill

Atlanta – Georgia Equality is launching a historic grassroots campaign with Georgia Unites Against Discrimination to oppose legislation in the Georgia General Assembly that essentially allows individuals to use their religious beliefs to harm the LGBT community and others.

“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. That’s why it’s protected in the Constitution. But religious freedom doesn’t give any of us a right to harm others,” said Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality.

Georgia Equality works to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities throughout the state. Georgia Unites Against discrimination (GAUnites.org) is a bipartisan grassroots campaign dedicated to protecting gay and transgender Georgians from discrimination and ensuring that individuals and businesses aren’t able to use their religious beliefs to harm others.

“Through these coalition efforts, we will educate, organize and activate the citizens of Georgia to stop this dangerous legislation. We will highlight the stories of real Georgians as we work to make the case that in our state, discrimination against anyone is wrong, and that includes people who are gay, lesbian or transgender,” said Graham.

While opposing this legislation, GA Equality will also expand its state-wide efforts to broaden and strengthen nondiscrimination protections against gay and transgender Georgians.

Graham noted the ‘religious liberty’ bills will not only harm the LGBT community but will open the door for unintended consequences for other people in our state:

  • It could impact public safety, giving a paramedic or police officer the right to refuse to help someone who is gay.
  • It could hurt single mothers, who are denied or kicked out of housing by a landlord who believes a man should lead every family.
  • It could even excuse a man who abuses his wife because he claims that a husband is within his rights to discipline his own family.

Graham is hopeful that more of the business community will follow the lead of Delta Airlines, Mariott, and IHG to publicly oppose this legislation, as many did last year when the bill died in committee. “This proposal would badly damage the business reputation of the state. It will jeopardize Georgia’s ability to grow its economy and negatively impact our reputation as a leader in global commerce.”

By partnering with Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, Graham is optimistic that the bill will be defeated because most citizens support the basic values of fairness and freedom.

“One of our most important values is treating others the way we want to be treated, and creating new laws that go against that principle hurt us all,” said Graham.

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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! bit.ly/2VTK7j3

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