Georgia's own 'license to discriminate' bill dies at the end of the legislative session

The Georgia legislative session ended without passing a bill that would have legalized discrimination against the LGBT community. Much like Indiana and Arkansas, Georgia was considering a 'license to discriminate' bill. It had already passed the Georgia Senate, and was then tabled by the House Judiciary Committee.

Similar laws were passed in Indiana and Arkansas, although in both states the laws were amended slightly following national outcry over the overbroad protections for discrimination against LGBT people.

Opposition in Georgia existed among faith leaders, corporations, and celebrities, who spoke out since the law was introduced.

Elton John wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution opposing the bill, saying:

What SB 129 will really do is institutionalize the hate some people hold in their hearts against other people. It will turn back the clock on the progress we have made — not only in the fight against HIV, but also in the struggle for a more equal and just society.

To be clear, I firmly believe in freedom of religion. Everyone has the right to worship as they choose. But I also believe in justice, equality and the rule of law. We can’t just let people refuse to follow a law because they don’t like it. And we can’t just grant special exemptions that allow people to discriminate at will.

Several other celebrities also tweeted their opposition to the law:


Love. Freedom. Equality.

A photo posted by Amber Chaney (@amberchaneyacts) on

Businesses doing work in Georgia also stated their opposition.

Mary Liz Finn, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Nielsen, told GLAAD, "We oppose discrimination on grounds including religion, race, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Diversity makes our company and our business stronger and we will continue our longstanding efforts to recruit and retain a workforce that is reflective of the communities where we live and serve.”

Building retailer Home Depot responded to a request by Think Progress. Stephen Holmes, Director of Corporate Communications said, “We’ve been clear on several occasions that we don’t support anything that discriminates.”

Just yesterday, Coca-Cola issued a statement:

Coca-Cola does not support any legislation that discriminates, in our home state of Georgia or anywhere else. Coca-Cola values and celebrates diversity. We believe policies that would allow a business to refuse service to an individual based upon discrimination of any kind, does not only violate our Company's core values, but would also negatively affect our consumers, customers, suppliers, bottling partners and associates. As a business, it is appropriate for us to help foster diversity, unity and respect among all people.

We advocate for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices. Coca-Cola does not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.

Supporters of the bill in Georgia have vowed to bring the bill back up next year, and more states are still considering dangerous 'license to discriminate' bills around the country. The ongoing debate about the intent and impact, and the anecdotal stories that have been included in such coverage of such laws is continued evidence of the gap between legal equality and cultural acceptance. GLAAD's Accelerating Acceptance report outlines the continued levels of discomfort Americans feel interacting with LGBT people. Our #GotYourBack campaign calls on allies to express their support with LGBT people around the world, whether they are facing legalized discrimination, like in states with such laws, or in everyday interactions.