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By Maria Saporta
Nearly three out of four Georgians support passing a state law to protect gay and transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations, according to a survey conducted by the Just Win Foundation.
But the same survey shows that an equal percentage of Georgians think it’s already illegal under state law to fire, refuse to hire, deny housing or public accommodations access to a person who is gay or transgender.
“We were very pleased when we saw the results of this poll,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, an organization which aims to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
“But three-quarters (74 percent) of the state’s population believes we are already covered by federal legislation, and we’re not,” Graham added. “We have to do some education about the civil rights law in Georgia.”
Currently, there are bills moving through General Assembly to have a complete civil rights bill in Georgia.
“We have got a comprehensive and inclusive civil rights bill in both the Senate and the House,” Graham said. It’s comprehensive because it includes housing, public accommodations and employment. And it’s inclusive because it includes race, national origin, sex, religion, age and disability as well as sexual identity and gender identity (which are not part of federal protections).
There also is a proposed bi-partisan resolution that is calling for a study committee to thoroughly research a comprehensive civil rights law Georgia, an idea that Graham also embraced.
“A study committee would be of interest to us,” he said. “It would give us a formal structure where we could have hearings. This is the beginning of a new discussion in Georgia. It may take a couple of years to build the political will so that people can understand what these bills do and what they don’t do to bring comprehensive and inclusive civil rights to Georgia.
Georgia, the home of the civil rights movement, has among the weakest civil rights laws in the country, a fact that Graham hopes will change in the near future.
The survey by the Just Win Foundation shows that Georgians are supportive of the state being more inclusive to all segments of the population. For a full look at the survey, click here.
The Just Win Foundation recently shared the findings of its survey to Georgia Equality. It surveyed 600 likely voters during mid-December, and the survey has a margin of error of 4 percent. Seventy percent of the interviews were with people who had a landline while 30 percent were reached through mobile phones.SHARE THIS STORY