LGBT nondiscrimination amendment fails in bill hearing
Anti-gay preacher Franklin Graham decried marriage equality and transgender rights at a prayer rally on Feb. 10 at the Georgia State Capitol. Thousands of people packed Liberty Plaza for the event, which is part of Graham’s “Decision America Tour.”
The son of evangelist Billy Graham listed the “sins of our nation,” which he said included racism, abortion and gay marriage. He also referenced city leaders in Charlotte, who resurrected a controversial bathroom ordinance that involved ensuring transgender people the right to use the public bathrooms that match their gender identity.
“If this person wakes up in the morning and they feel like they’re a woman, and it’s a man, and he wants to go into a ladies restroom then they can do that. That’s [Char- lotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts’] goal,” Graham told the crowd. “And I’m going to tell you right now, that’s wicked and that’s evil. Men belong in men’s bathrooms and women belong in women’s bathrooms, and we don’t need men and predators going into women’s bathrooms. I’m just telling you. Now, that’s what happens when Christians don’t vote, this is the kind of garbage we get.”
Hundreds rally against religious exemptions bills at GA Capitol
Roughly 150 opponents of the numerous so-called “religious exemptions” bills under consideration in the Georgia legislature braved the cold and descended on the State Capitol on Feb. 9 to voice their opposition.
The rally, organized by LGBT rights coalition Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, took place in Liberty Plaza roughly a year after a similar rally. While that event featured mostly faith leaders on the speaker list, this year’s rally included speakers from a broader coalition.
Georgia Equality executive director Jeff Graham hit back against the bills’ supporters who say that they will do no harm, citing a lawsuit filed by conservative groups in Indiana (where similar legislation passed last year) to strike down municipal ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
An effort to include sexual orientation, gender identity and several other classes in a bill aimed to prevent businesses from discriminating against customers failed on Feb. 9 in a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
House Bill 849, the Georgia Civil Rights in Public Accommodations Act, would have prevented businesses, including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, concert halls and sports venues, from denying service to people on the grounds of their race, color, religion, veteran status or national origin. It was introduced in January by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) and has a bipartisan list of co-sponsors including House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and lesbian Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates).
During the hearing, state Rep. Taylor Bennett (D-Brookhaven) introduced an amendment that would add sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and sex to the list of those protected. Bennett, whose mother and sister are lesbians, made opposition to state Sen. Josh McKoon’s (R-Columbus) so-called “religious freedom” bill the centerpiece of his first political run last August.
The amendment failed and HB 849 will now go to the House floor for a vote.