Top Ge­or­gia Demo­crat: Pass civil rights bill pro­tect­ing LGBT peo­ple

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

The 2016 State Equal­ity In­dex, an an­nual leg­isla­tive re­port re­leased Dec. 14 by the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign Foun­da­tion, listed Ge­or­gia in the low­est-rated cat­e­gory: “High Pri­or­ity to Achieve Ba­sic Equal­ity.” Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from the foun­da­tion, Ge­or­gia lacks “ex­plicit state-level work­place pro­tec­tions for all LGBTQ em­ploy­ees.”

“State gov­ern­ments have a clear choice between sow­ing the seeds of divi­sion and dis­crim­i­na­tion or build­ing an econ­omy that works for ev­ery­one by fos­ter­ing fair­ness and in­clu­sion,” HRC Pres­i­dent Chad Grif­fin said in the re­lease. “Un­for­tu­nately, too many law­mak­ers have de­cided to tar­get LGBTQ peo­ple for state-sanc­tioned dis­crim­i­na­tion and to in­ter­fere with lo­cal pro­tec­tions for work­ers, cus­tomers and res­i­dents. Now more than ever, it is cru­cial that leg­is­la­tors across the coun­try stand on the right side of his­tory and en­sure full equal­ity for all their cit­i­zens — noth­ing more and noth­ing less.”

Ge­or­gia, along with the other South­ern states, are noted in the low­est-rated cat­e­gory for ex­ist­ing laws, such as those that crim­i­nal­ize HIV and sodomy and laws that al­low for re­li­gious-based dis­crim­i­na­tion — though it is im­por­tant to note that Gov. Nathan Deal ve­toed a pro­posed “re­li­gious free­dom bill” in Ge­or­gia ear­lier this year. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Ge­or­gia also lacks non-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws that in­clude sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity pro­tec­tions, as well as laws that pro­tect LGBT in­di­vid­u­als from hate crimes. Ge­or­gia does have anti-cy­ber­bul­ly­ing laws as well as “good” health data col­lec­tion, but stands to im­prove in all other ar­eas, the re­port shows.

State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-At­lanta), the House Mi­nor­ity Leader, called on law­mak­ers to pass a statewide civil rights bill that in­cludes pro­tec­tions for LGBT peo­ple.

The com­ments came in a Dec. 14 in­ter­view with WABE’s De­nis O’Hayer, when Abrams shot down the idea of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity be­ing left out of such a bill so it would pass the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

“If we are go­ing to ex­tend and pro­tect civil rights in the state of Ge­or­gia in 2017, we should cover ev­ery group that is vul­ner­a­ble to dis­crim­i­na­tion and Ge­or­gia has demon­strated that there is an ex­tra­or­di­nary vul­ner­a­bil­ity for peo­ple based on their sex­ual iden­ti­fi­ca­tion,” Abrams said.

Abrams also warned against pass­ing a civil rights bill now with­out those pro­tec­tions, then go­ing back later and adding them once the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate is more palat­able.

“Nor­mally I think that that type of in­cre­men­tal­ism is ac­tu­ally help­ful. In this case, there are suf­fi­cient fed­eral laws to cover most of the groups that would be vul­ner­a­ble and ex­posed, which is one of the rea­sons Ge­or­gia has been al­lowed to not take ac­tion,” Abrams said.

“But I think to refuse to take ac­tion when it comes to the LGBTQ com­mu­nity is dan­ger­ous and wrong­headed, and what it does is sends a sig­nal that we do not be­lieve that that com­mu­nity de­serves the pro­tec­tion of our laws,” she added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.