Georgia's anti-LGBT 'First Amendment Defense Act' continues to meet resistance

On February 19, 2016, the Georgia State Senate voted to advance House Bill 757, a bill that combines the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA) and the "Pastor Protection Act." If passed, HB 757, often referred to as FADA, would legally protect Georgians who wish to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs. The status of the bill is still pending, as FADA has been sent back to the Georgia House of Representatives for a reconciliation vote. But Georgians and LGBT activists are not idly standing by. The crowd of LGBT activists, celebrities, clergy, and companies that have condemned FADA has been getting even bigger in the past few weeks with voices such as Delta, Virgin Group, and even the Governor of Georgia uniting in the fight against this harmful anti-LGBT bill.

On Wednesday March 2, 2016 representatives from Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, Georgia Equality, Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal printed, boxed, and delivered 75,000 letters that expressed disapproval of the "First Amendment Defense Act" to Governor Nathan Deal's office in Atlanta.

The following day, Gov. Deal made a biblical case against FADA as a "religious freedom bill," saying, "we do not have a belief in my way of looking at religion that says that we have to discriminate against anybody." He went on to express his hope that everyone can "take a deep breath, realize that the world is changing around us and recognize that it is important that we protect fundamental religious beliefs but we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that."

Gov. Deal's stance against discrimination has been called a strong warning to legislatures to vote against FADA in its current form. Georgia Unites and Delta Airlines applauded and thanked Gov. Deal for his support and leadership on twitter. Other companies and organizations such as Salesforce, Unilever, Dell, Porsche, Home Depot, AT&T and more have also recently voiced their rejection of FADA and discrimination against LGBT people based on religious belief.

Although the House has yet to return to HB 757, House Speaker David Ralston has expressed that the House is wary of passing a "religious freedom bill" that gives way to discrimination. Follow Georgia Unites on Twitter to keep up with FADA advancements, and see Georgia Equality and Georgia Unites to see how you can contribute to the fight against discrimination.