WASHINGTON – Civil rights and religious leaders from across Georgia gathered in Atlanta this afternoon to release a new report that outlines the growing need for updates to the state’s civil rights protections. The Georgia Unites Against Discrimination coalition commissioned the report, and Joe Whitley authored the executive summary. Whitley served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. The report, Liberty and Justice in Georgia, highlights that Georgia residents have some of the weakest civil rights protections in the nation. The report concludes that Georgia has both a legal need and economic imperative to update its archaic policies, including non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
“Georgia has some of the weakest laws in the nation to safeguard citizens against discrimination, and that’s just not conducive to maintaining and growing a thriving economy in the long-term,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans’ executive director. “Lawmakers and business leaders alike have sent a clear message that the legislature shouldn’t waste any more time considering discriminatory and damaging bills like last year’s HB 757 or proposals like North Carolina’s disastrous HB 2. This is a unique moment, and there’s a real opportunity to start a discussion in Georgia about why enacting comprehensive nondiscrimination protections is so critical to the state’s future.”
Georgia’s flirtation last year with the discriminatory HB 757 was costly. More than 500 major businesses joined the Georgia Prospers coalition to voice their opposition to the discriminatory measure, including AT&T, Bank of America, Deloitte, Delta, Dow Chemical, EquiFax, Facebook, First Data, the Georgia Restaurant Association, Google, Home Depot, Marriott, PNC, Porsche, SunTrust, Turner, United, UPS, Verizon and WellsFargo. The NFL warned that passing HB 757 would harm Atlanta’s Super Bowl aspirations, and all of the city’s major sports team – the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks – condemned the legislation. The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau warned that even the specter of the discriminatory bill becoming law already imperiled a half-billion hotel bookings across the metro region.
The full report is available online on Georgia Unites’ website. The report’s final recommendations include enacting comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The report stresses the economic imperative of protecting specific communities in any update to law – specifically, the LGBT community.
Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.
By Melanie Nathan