Controversial legislature threatens LGBT Georgians


John Ellis

Within the coming weeks, federally funded organizations in Georgia could legally refuse service to LGBT citizens under the claim of religious freedom.

The amendment, combines the religious freedom act, the pastor protection act and a number of other controversial legislation that would allow businesses from non-profits to banks to deny service to citizens based on religious restrictions.

Specifically the bill could prevent same sex couples from adopting children, being housed together in homeless shelters, and even more commonplace activities like signing up for a family phone plan.  

While it might not seem that detrimental to larger communities, it’s important to realize how it could impact Georgia as a whole.

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Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality speaks to a large crowd outside the Georgia Capitol.

Jeff Graham, the executive director of Georgia Equality is all too aware of the harm the bill could cause and has been actively trying to stop it since it began.

“If the bill passes, it could do major damage to Georgia’s reputation as a state.”  Graham said, “We’re fighting very hard to keep this from happening.”

Graham reminds Georgians of the impact that similar legislation had when passed in Indiana last year, stating that the economic backlash cost the state some 1.5 billion dollars in revoked funding from businesses and organizations that disagreed with the legislature.

“Georgia could lose up to 2 billion dollars,” Graham warned, “and because we rely so much on revenue from tourism, conventions and the entertainment industry, most of the economic damage would happen to our area.”

Republican Senator Greg Kirk from the 13th district of Georgia has been the amended bill’s main sponsor in the Senate with six other representatives following in suit.

Kirk and his co-sponsors slid the bill through the Senate and are now waiting on a vote from the house, which if approved will hand the bill in all its controversy to the governor.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kirk claims that the bill focuses on protection and not discrimination.  “It only impacts the government’s interaction with faith-based organizations or a person who holds faith-based, sincerely held beliefs as it relates to marriage,” he said. 

While both the governor and the speaker of the house have said they don’t see it passing in its current form, many Georgians are afraid that the bill has already paved the road for more discriminatory legislature.  


Photos courtesy of Steve Eberhardt