Georgia introduces its first LGBTQ non-discrimination bill after increased LGBTQ representation

For the first time in Georgia’s history, the state legislature has introduced a comprehensive bill that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. The move is an important milestone, given just last year Gov. Nathan Deal was forced to veto an anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bill passed by the state legislature – which would have provided permission for business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
The turnaround in just a single year is astonishing, but was made possible in part by the increased LGBTQ representation in the state legislature. Openly LGBTQ Reps. Park Cannon and Sam Park – both elected last year – are strong and persistent advocates for the new legislation. Their voices – and conversations with their straight lawmaker colleagues – helped secure this shift from passing anti-LGBTQ legislation to considering new protections.
And these protections are necessary. A 2013 survey found 45 percent of LGBTQ employees in Georgia had faced discrimination and harassment in the previous year – harming the employees, employers and the state. A recent report by the Williams Institute found that employers lose approximately $9,100 for every employee who leaves the state or changes jobs due to workplace discrimination. The report also found that discrimination against transgender people in employment and housing costs Georgia taxpayers over $1.5 million each year in public benefits expenses.
Both Reps. Cannon and Park will attend Victory Institute’s Atlanta Leadership Summit on March 18. The free, day-long Atlanta Leadership Summit will provide the training, skills, and networking opportunities attendees need to become leaders in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.