As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the successes we’ve had this year, and also remind ourselves to keep our momentum going as we enter the new year. We can’t afford to rest on our laurels, and we have to keep pushing to make sure that the people of Georgia stand up for comprehensive civil rights, and stand against anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Here, a list of our 2017 accomplishments to motivate us into an even stronger 2018!
First Ever Comprehensive LGBTQ Civil Rights Bills Filed
In February, history was made in the Peach State when the first-ever civil rights bill specifically addressing non-discrimination for LGBTQ people was filed at the State House. Senate Bill 119 would ensure that no LGBTQ person could be fired, evicted, or denied service in public accommodations simply because of who they are. This bill was introduced by State Senator Lester Jackson.
In late February, two companion bills were filed — House Resolution 404 and House Bill 488. The former would create a commission to hear testimony and study the need for updated civil rights laws, while the latter would follow the spirit of SB 119 in preventing discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
All three pieces of legislation remain up for consideration heading into the 2018 legislative session. Click here to email your lawmaker and show your support for these important pieces of legislation that would protect all LGBTQ people in Georgia!
Local Activism Has Lasting Impact
Beyond the Capitol, Georgians showed up in impressive numbers and mobilized to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination across the state. In May, the Macon-Bibb county commission became the 63rd municipal entity in the state to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ people.
In Decatur, when faced with an action that would weaken protections for transgender students, over 1,000 people submitted letters of support, successfully defending the existing policy. The people of Georgia have continued to work in support of LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections, and there is no doubt these efforts will reap more successes in 2018.
Bennett’s Project Gives Hope and Support to Transgender Georgians
In October, Georgia Unites Against Discrimination began a collaboration with a Roswell, Georgia student named Bennett. Bennett had heard some hurtful things about transgender people from local and national conversations, and wanted to start a project to let his transgender friends know that they were loved, valued, and supported.
The result was #BennettsProject, a statewide campaign dedicated to sending messages of love and support to transgender youth. These messages have been displayed at community events around the state, and have been used to further educate people about transgender issues, and why non-discrimination is so important.
If you’d like to send your own message of support, click here, and be sure to share on Twitter with the hashtag #BennettsProject.
Looking Ahead to 2018
In 2018, the fight for comprehensive civil rights protections will continue like never before. Currently, all three pieces of legislation regarding LGBTQ non-discrimination remain up for consideration heading into the legislative session. One of our major priorities this coming year is to get one of these pieces of legislation heard in the House or Senate. Click here to email your lawmaker and show your support for these important pieces of legislation that would protect all LGBTQ people in Georgia!
In early 2017, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill was introduced that would have allowed people to claim broad religious exemptions for refusing LGBTQ people housing, employment, or access to public places like restaurants, retail shops and medical care.
Luckily, we were able to defeat it with the help of many supporters inside and outside the legislature. However, a similar bill may be introduced again, and we must be ready to move against it with the same spirit we’ve previously showed. Very important in this fight will be the support of businesses at all levels — local, state, and national. Atlanta is likely a top contender for Amazon to locate its second world headquarters, and could prove a major factor in determining whether or not legislation is heard, as the company cites diversity and inclusion in its mission statement.
If we want to keep securing victories, we need your help. If you haven’t yet, sign our pledge now to support comprehensive civil rights protections, and be sure to share with your friends and followers on social media. Read the stories of Georgians who support and would be impacted by the passage of protections.
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