Today Georgia Unites is delivering 75,000 letters to Governor Nathan Deal from constituents opposing discriminatory religious exemptions bills like the First Amendment Defense Act.
This delivery is the culmination of months of grassroots campaigning to block legislation that promotes LGBT discrimination under the guise of protecting religious freedom.
Under FADA, for example, individuals and nonprofits—including adoption agencies, domestic violence centers, homeless shelters and even religiously affiliated hospitals—can claim the belief that marriage should be held between one man and one woman as an excuse to deny sometimes life-saving services to same-sex or unmarried couples.
Constituents submitted nearly 40,000 letters of dissent to FADA in the last week alone after the Senate hastily voted to advance the bill without allowing for amendments.
Our own Jeff Graham seizes on this opportunity to assert the need for non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender Georgians:
In the only broad survey of LGBT Georgians, 45% said that they had experienced some form or discrimination or harassment on the job and 48% reported that they had experienced discrimination while in a public establishment.
While the City of Atlanta has broad protections for many groups including the LGBT community, there are no state or federal laws that offer explicit protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s time to take steps to change that.
According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey, a majority Georgians support LGBT non-discrimination laws—and reject legislation that would allow someone to refuse service to gay and transgender people on the basis of religion.
Here’s the break-down. Of the 6 in 10 Georgians who oppose discriminatory religious exemption:
- 64% of young Georgians (18-29) oppose
- 66% of African-Americans Georgians oppose
- 63% of Catholics oppose
And Georgians in support of comprehensive non-discrimination protections include:
- For people of faith, 73% of Catholics and 54% of white evangelical Protestants support
- 59% of Republicans support
- 78% of Georgians under 30 support
Across political and religious demographics, public support for LGBT non-discrimination is at all-time highs. And now, for the first time, businesses are taking a fierce stand for LGBT rights in Georgia.
In the past week, major corporations and local indie companies alike have unleashed a hailstorm of criticism over the anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act.
Immediately after the Senate voted to advance the bill, a local tech company announced on Twitter that it would be relocating its headquarters from Georgia to Nevada as direct response to the passage of the discriminatory legislation.
Since then, Salesforce.com has taken a strong lead in the effort to beat back legislative attacks on LGBT Georgians. CEO Marc Benioff engaged in a Twitter war with Georgia Sen. Josh McKoon (lead sponsor of the infamous RFRA bill, which is still live this session), and has since had a FADA poll pinned to the top of his feed:
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) February 26, 2016
In a recent Huffington Post interview, Benioff said the company will unleash a “thunderstorm of economic sanctions” on Georgia if FADA passes and calls for lawmakers to take steps to address LGBT equality in the state.
Brian Tolleson of Bark Bark entertainment has warned that any legislation that gives even the perception that discrimination is welcome in Georgia will have the immediate effect of driving the film industry from the state—and the $10 billion revenue stream it creates. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he said:
The powers that be in the industry really want to defeat Georgia’s rise as entertainment destination. And we’re handing it to them on a silver platter.
Considering the Governor’s concerted investment of billions in public funding to create Georgia’s brand as the Hollywood of the south, taxpayers would bear the burden if the industry divests.
All told, 400+ major local and national businesses, hundreds of clergy, and a majority of Georgians stand united in opposition to anti-LGBT religious exemptions laws—and in firm support of non-discrimination protections.
It’s time for lawmakers to act in the best interests of the people they were elected to represent. To send a message to your lawmakers urging them to reject all religious exemptions bills like the First Amendment Defense Act and take steps to address LGBT non-discrimination needs in the state, click here.SHARE THIS STORY