City Council News Discrimination bills

Published on March 10th, 2016 |

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Council passes Norwood’s legislation opposing religious liberty bills

The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved a resolution March 7 by Councilmembers Mary Norwood and Alex Wan expressing opposition to the so-called religious liberty bills currently being debated in the Georgia General Assembly.

Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood

Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood

Norwood and Wan’s resolution was co-signed by Councilmembers Yolanda Adrean, Natalyn Archibong, Michael Julian Bond, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Andre Dickens, Kwanza Hall, Felicia Moore,

Howard Shook, Carla Smith and Ivory Lee Young, Jr.

Also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Senate Bill 129) and the Pastor Protection Act or First Amendment Defense Act (House Bill 757), the two pieces of legislation pending in the General Assembly would legalize discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The proposed state law would allow both individuals and organizations to refuse to conduct business with or otherwise discriminate against anyone whose marriage they find counters their

religious beliefs. It also protects individuals from existing nondiscrimination laws in Atlanta and elsewhere.

A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing the Georgia “religious liberty” bill, with at least one major company vowing to leave the state over the proposal.

And on March 2, Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, a bipartisan grassroots campaign dedicated to protecting GLBT Georgians from discrimination, delivered a petition with over 75,000 signatures to Governor Nathan Deal. The petition opposes any efforts to allow discrimination in Georgia law. Deal recently voiced his opposition to the proposal as well.

City Councilman Alex Wan

City Councilman Alex Wan

“I join Governor Nathan Deal, businesses all across Georgia, the LGBT Community and all Georgians who know that as Georgians we must stand for inclusion, equality, and fairness for all,” said Buckhead resident and At-Large Councilwoman Norwood.

“As a Citywide representative of our capital city, I understand how important it is to have a welcoming environment for everyone who lives, works in, plays in or visits our capital city and other communities throughout our great state,” Norwood stated. “Our recent successes in corporate relocations as well as our every expanding tourism businesses are predicated on knowing that Atlanta and all of Georgia welcomes them and embraces them.”

Norwood explained, “This is what sets Georgia and Atlanta apart and makes us a world-class environment, taking our place on the world stage. We cannot go backwards; we cannot afford to have discrimination in any form — under any guise — as the law of our State. Our future is too important,” she said.

Observers say Georgia will suffer lost revenue, as in Indiana where public disdain for a similar bill, before it even became law, is said to have cost that state $60 million.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors’ Bureau produced separate studies citing a potential loss of $1 billion to $2 billion if the bills pass without civil rights protections.

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