State Senator Lester Jackson (D-2) introduced a comprehensive non-discrimination bill today that updates Georgia’s laws to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. The concept enjoys popular support in Georgia: A 2016 PRRI survey found that two-thirds of all Georgians back non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, including 59 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Catholics, and nearly 80 percent of those under the age of 30.
“This is legislation that will ensure all Georgians – regardless of their faith, sexual orientation or gender identity – can receive fair and equal treatment under the law in our state,” said Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality executive director. “We’ve always known that respecting one’s religious beliefs and acknowledging the importance of treating LGBT people equally under the law were not mutually exclusive. We have more in common that what divides us, and I’m hopeful that we’re now starting a new chapter in the conversation about how we can make Georgia a better, stronger place to live and work for everyone.”
In introducing the legislation today, Sen. Jackson noted: “All people have a right to live free of discrimination. All people should be able to earn a living, go to school or eat in a restaurant without the fear of retribution based on others’ prejudice. All Georgians will be covered and respected under SB 119.”
The Georgia Unites Against Discrimination coalition issued a report earlier this year, Liberty and Justice in Georgia, which found that Georgia had some of the weakest civil rights protections in the nation for all its citizens – not just those who are LGBT. The lack of legal protections is costing the state: a January 2017 Williams Institute study looked at the costs of discrimination, and reported that the state loses, on average, $9,100 for every employee who moves or changes jobs because of workplace discrimination; and spends $477,000 on homeless shelters for LGBT people who have been denied access to services and accommodations.
“Georgia has some of the weakest civil rights protections in the nation, and we know that’s costing our state,” added Graham. “It’s costing us unnecessary expenditures or missed investments associated with discrimination, and it’s costing our state’s welcoming brand in the long-run. We’re all working together to build a strong and competitive Georgia for the 21st century, and this bill is a powerful step toward our shared vision for a better state.”