Nathan Deal: Veto LGBT discriminatory HB 757 "FADA"

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On February 19, 2016, the Georgia Senate approved a version of HB 757 that would allow for further discrimination against the LGBT community in the name of "religious freedom."

On March 16, 2016, the Georgia Senate approved another version of HB 757, which had been revised earlier by the Georgia HOR. Now, Governor Nathan Deal is our last hope.

These changes propose that no punishments should be given to an individual or (a rather broadly defined) organization for refusing to provide service to a person(s) due to the individual/organization's religious beliefs.

I, and members of my community, believe that this bill - if made into a law with these changes - could be used to justify discrimination against the LGBT community. HB 757 could allow doctors to refuse to treat LGBT patients if doing so contradicted their religious beliefs. It could allow a business to refuse to serve single mothers. HB 757 could allow people to exploit religious texts in an effort to discriminate.

The Human Rights Campaign wrote on March 18:

"As the discriminatory HB 757 sits on Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s desk, more and more corporate leaders and businesses across the country are speaking out against the deplorable anti-LGBT legislation. As it stands, this bill could allow a business owner or employee to refuse service to LGBT people. It could also undermine local non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people, permit hospitals to refuse to provide medically necessary care and allow a taxpayer-funded service provider to discriminate by denying a job because of the applicant's religion, sexual orientation or gender identity."

This is a huge step backwards from last year's supreme court ruling in favor of marriage equality, and many steps backwards from centuries of liberation and civil rights movements. The United States was founded on a set of values, one of them being a firm separation of church and state. The LGBT community achieved a great victory last year with the federal legalization of gay marriage. By approving this bill, Georgia is not only reiterating a discriminatory stance against its LGBT citizens, but also against the very notion of equality.

HB 757 doesn't just apply to LGBT members, but also to anyone who could possibly be denounced by a religious text. Georgia Unites Against Discrimination explains it on their website very well:

"RFRA allows individuals to ignore any law they deem to conflict with their religious beliefs. This has already happened in other states, causing problems related to:

  • Child Welfare – In New Mexico, a local religious leader cited the state RFRA when he appealed a conviction for sexually abusing two teenagers.
  • Domestic Violence – Domestic violence and women’s rights organizations across the country have opposed such measures, because, as one advocate wrote “Too often in our history, religion has been used as a justification for the abuse of women and children, often by family members.”
  • Public Safety – In addition to issues relating to child welfare and domestic violence, a RFRA law could allow a police officer to refuse to even interact with certain members of the community, even while on duty. There has already been an example of this in Oklahoma, where an officer cited a RFRA law in defense of his refusal to even attend a community event hosted by a local Islamic Society.
  • Gay and Transgender People – Gay and transgender Americans work hard to earn a decent living and provide for their families – just like everyone else. When a gay or transgender person walks into a business or government office, they shouldn’t have to worry if they will be turned away simply because of who they are. No matter how you feel about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, treating all people with respect is something we can all agree on.
  • State & Local Government – RFRA laws muddy the legal landscape and have already led to many costly lawsuits across the country, as local municipalities have been embroiled in lengthy litigation. In Arizona, it took one small town four years to settle a dispute where the plaintiff used RFRA as a basis for refusing to comply with an ordinance regulating sign postings. The National League of Cities and the National Associations of Counties have both cautioned against such laws."

Those of us who oppose this bill are not alone. Businesses, studios, and organizations from around the nation are making public statements. Here are some noteworthy adversaries:

  • Twitter
  • NFL
  • Netflix
  • Disney
  • Intel
  • Delta
  • Virgin
  • Microsoft
  • Unilever
  • Salesforce

For those of you who proudly support marriage equality - or, rather, equality everywhere for everyone - and vow to stand alongside Georgia's (and the United States') LGBT community, now is the time to do so. Sign this petition and tell Georgia to represent the rights of all of its citizens. Governor Nathan Deal: Veto HB 757.  

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