Community rallies to celebrate veto of anti-gay Georgia ‘religious freedom’ bill
Over 300 people gathered in Liberty Plaza next door to the Georgia Capitol on April 5 to celebrate Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of the anti-LGBT House Bill 757 and call for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections.
“Today is a good day in our state and today is especially a good day for those of us who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” said Jeff Graham, leader of Georgia Equality and LGBT rights coalition Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, who hosted the rally. “It is a good day because thankfully Gov. Deal showed the leadership and the conviction to say no to harmful legislation that would have opened the doors and could have been used as a license to discriminate against many Georgians, but very specifically those of us in the LGBT community.”
Speakers not only celebrated the governor’s veto of HB 757 but warned of similar legislation returning next year and called on the state to enact comprehensive anti-discrimination laws.
Former state Rep. Simone Bell, who is now southern regional director for Lambda Legal, noted the prevalence of similar legislation across the South and the unique circumstances at play in the region. Her comments were all the more notable since, almost at the same time Bell was speaking, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant was tweeting that he had signed that state’s anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation into law.
Several state legislators came out for the rally, including Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta), Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta)—the only three openly LGBT state legislators—and ally Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). And Josh Noblitt, Rafer Johnson and Bob Gibeling—three of the openly gay candidates running for the legislature this year—were also spotted in the audience.
Over 300 people gathered to celebrate Gov. Deal’s veto of HB 757 on April 5 at Liberty Plaza. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)