Right now, Georgia is one of the only states that lacks statewide non-discrimination laws. We know there is a strong economic and legal case to be made for civil rights protections, and that’s why we’re proud today to release a report entitled Liberty & Justice in Georgia: Protecting Our Heritage & Growing Our Competitive Future to make that case.
As Joe Whitley, a conservative attorney who served as the Acting United States Associate Attorney General in the Bush Administration, writes in the executive summary of the report: “The average Georgian [is] significantly more susceptible to discrimination than the average U.S. citizen.”
Georgia is one of only three states that have no laws barring employers from discriminating on the basis of race or religion. We’re one of only five that have a similarly lax stance toward race- and faith-based discrimination in public places. And—because our laws lack any civil rights protections for LGBT people—gay and transgender Georgians can be fired, evicted and denied service in public places like parks, malls and restaurants because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
This status quo puts all Georgians at risk, and LGBT Georgians are some of the most vulnerable. According to surveys that we have included in our report, 45% of LGBT Georgians say they have been discriminated against or harassed at work over the last year.
“The average Georgian [is] significantly more susceptible to discrimination than the average U.S. citizen.” -Joe Whitley
Discrimination is unacceptable, and many employers know it. North Carolina lost nearly a billion dollars in investment and tourism opportunities, as well as thousands of jobs, after the state’s anti-LGBT HB 2 drove companies like PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and CoStar to freeze planned expansions and the NBA and NCAA to pull major championship games.
Here in Georgia, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau have estimated that Georgia could lose $1 to $2 billion by passing NC-style laws. That’s because our tourism industry brings in about $50 billion annually and is responsible for 400,000 jobs—a tenth of our economy. Georgia’s film industry—the third largest in the country—has voiced its strong opposition to anti-LGBT measures, with businesses like Disney, Marvel and AMC threatening to pull productions from the state if lawmakers advance discriminatory legislation. It brings in $7 billion a year and supports 80,000 jobs.
The bottom line is: Comprehensive non-discrimination protections are a critical component of keeping Georgia’s economy vibrant and growing. Right now, the lack of these protections is putting Georgia businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
In 2017, Georgia has the opportunity to chart a new path forward. For three years in a row now, legislation that would have codified discrimination into Georgia law has failed with bipartisan support. But going forward, it’s not enough to reject discriminatory proposals. We must take steps, Republicans and Democrats alike, to advance civil rights protections for hardworking Georgians and the future of our state’s economy.
Enacting statewide non-discrimination protections is the clear path forward. Click here to pledge your support for passing comprehensive non-discrimination protections in 2017.SHARE THIS STORY