Yesterday, the Georgia House passed House Bill 757, which has added further anti-LGBT amendments to Georgia's "license to discriminate" bill. The bill will now go to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature. Despite major resistance from Georgians, businesses, and celebreties with ties in Georgia, the House quickly introduced and voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill.
HB757 would allow Georgians to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs. Hundreds of activists, clergy, celebrities, and companies have spoken out against this bill. Even the governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, warned the senate not to send HB757 to him in its then current form, saying "it is important that we protect fundamental religious beliefs but we don't have to discriminate against other people to do that." While HB757 has been revised, it now allows for even more discrimination.
In its previous version, HB757 allowed "faith-based organizations" to discriminate against LGBT people. In its current form, HB757 allows taxpayer-funded faith based organizations to deny services or employment to anyone who conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief broadly – as opposed to the previous version of the bill, which was specific to religious beliefs around marriage.
Among other things, the version of HB757 that passed last night holds that no pastor can be forced to perform a same-sex ceremony and no religious institution or faith-based organization can be forced to rent, lease or otherwise make space available if there are objections and would not be required to provide charitable services to anyone with whom they disagreed. Furthermore, FADA sanctions discrimination with taxpayer dollars. This means that an organization can take taxpayer money to perform public services and then deny those services as well as employment to a taxpayer if it is against the organization's religious beliefs.
— Georgia Unites (@GeorgiaUnites) March 17, 2016
In addition to Georgian and LGBT activist outrage at this bill, over 450 corporations have warned that passing a law that allows discrimination is bad for business, including Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Unilever, and and Virgin. One outspoken business leader has been Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, who has has already warned that Salesforce will have to consider relocation if the bill passes. He reacted to the news quickly on Twitter.
One again Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate. When will this insanity end? https://t.co/4jBrNJtCz8
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) March 17, 2016
Governor Deal has over a month to make a decision to sign or veto FADA. Join GLAAD to urge him to keep to his word and protect Georgians against discrimination. Learn more about the bill and visit Georgia Unites to see how you can help.