Stopping Discrimination in Georgia: What You Can Do Now

Georgia’s House and Senate rushed an amended version of HB 757, the License to Discriminate, through both chambers in a matter of hours on the evening of March 16. Despite national backlash from businesses, people of faith, conservatives, legal experts and even Governor Deal himself; lawmakers actually made the bill worse.

We expect the bill to head to the Governor’s desk at the conclusion of the legislative session, currently scheduled for March 24th. He will have approximately 40 days to sign or veto the bill – around May 3. We urge the governor to stick to his previous forceful opposition of the bill and veto the legislation:

  • Georgia’s economy and brand are at stake. Governor Deal is the only one who can lead his state down the right path, and he must veto this dangerous legislation.
  • Despite unprecedented backlash from businesses all across Georgia, more than 300 faith leaders, civil rights leaders, conservatives, legal experts and more than 75,000 Georgians; lawmakers took a discriminatory bill and made it even worse.
  • The new HB 757 creates several new religious exemptions, including one that is so broad it would apply to nearly every state and local law. Another specifically permits religious hiring discrimination, and yet another permits discrimination in education and social services. This new language makes it even easier to discriminate against LGBT Georgians and others, and it stands to void local nondiscrimination ordinances already on the books across the state.

The new HB 757, for example, could allow claims by:

o   An employer to fire a woman who remarried after a divorce;

o   A homeless shelter to refuse to admit LGBT youth off the street;

o   A pharmacist to refuse to provide a patient with HIV medication;

o   A soup kitchen to turn away a single mother and her children;

o   A counselor to be exempted from state licensing requirements; or

o   A suicide hotline operator to deny help to someone in need of emergency counseling.

 

  • When the Governor previously announced his opposition to HB 757, he affirmed the importance of religious freedom but pushed back on the need to add additional protections that would lead to discrimination. Other conservatives spoke out against this legislation as well, including a prominent member of the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. And 11 Republicans in the legislature voted against the final version of the legislation.
  •  Business reaction to the latest version of HB 757 has already been swift: the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association and Salesforce all spoke out in opposition within hours of the legislature’s action. And in recent weeks, membership in the Georgia Prospers coalition has swelled to nearly 500 businesses who all support nondiscrimination protection.
  • We’ve been down this road before. When Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a similar bill last year, the national backlash immediately hurt his state’s economy and reputation, and in the short-term it cost the city of Indianapolis at least $60 million.
  •  Governor Deal was right to oppose discriminatory bills like HB 757. Now is the time for Governor Deal to take decisive leadership that ensures Georgia isn’t on the receiving end of immediate and severe economic harm. Governor Deal must veto HB 757.

 

 

What You Can Do On Social Media

Copy and paste these tweets:

#Georgia lawmakers just sent the worst anti-#LGBT bill of the session to @GovernorDeal’s desk. Use #GAPol & #HB757 to call for a veto!

#Georgia @GovernorDeal: stand with 300+ faith leaders, ~500 businesses & a strong majority Georgians & veto #HB757. #GApol

Taxpayer funded orgs should never be allowed to discriminate in employment or service. #Georgia @GovernorDeal: veto #HB757. #GApol

The lives of #LGBT Georgians are on the line. RT to urge @GovernorDeal to veto #HB757, #Georgia's License to Discriminate.  #GApol

#Georgia @GovernorDeal said he would reject any discriminatory religious exemptions bills. RT to support a veto on anti-#LGBT #HB757. #GApol

#Georgia @GovernorDeal said he opposes discriminatory religious exemptions bills. Now with anti-#LGBT #HB757, he must prove it. #GApol

Under #HB757, #GA's License to Discriminate, ALL #LGBT Georgians are at risk regardless of where they live. RT to spread the word. #GApol

 

Share this link on Facebook and beyond to send an email to Governor Deal:

http://action.gaunites.org/page/speakout/vetofada

 

Share our blog posts and speech transcripts that go in-depth on why this bill is NOT supported by Judaism or the faith community: Check them out here.

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Robbie Medwed

Robbie Medwed began working with SOJOURN when it was known as The Rainbow Center as a volunteer in 2008. He served as chair of the TRC Advisory Board and as co-chair of Purim off Ponce (2010, 2011) before moving into his current role as Assistant Director, where he oversees SOJOURN's educational programming and outreach, including our award-winning workshops and training seminars. Robbie holds a master's degree in Jewish education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has written curricula and nationally-recognized inclusive programs for the Marcus JCC of Atlanta, BBYO, USY, Camp Ramah, the Jewish Teen Funders Network, Babaganewz, and JewishGPS. Robbie is also a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and cyclist. Robbie can be reached at robbie@sojourngsd.org.