NPR Press Release: HB 218-Georgia's "Religious Freedom"
February 18, 2015
The Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor
The Honorable David Schafer, Senate President Pro Tempore
The Honorable David Rolston, Speaker of the House
Georgia State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Dear Governor Deal, President Pro Tempore Shafer, and Speaker Rolston:
As leaders of organizations committed to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, we are writing to express our serious concerns about Georgia House Bill 218, the “Preventing Government Overreach on Religious Expression Act.” As drafted, this legislation invites and legitimizes further discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Last year, legislation similar to HB 218 passed the Arizona legislature but was vetoed by former Governor Jan Brewer following an outcry from businesses, sports organizations, and LGBT advocates. At the heart of this outcry was a simple message: Arizona should be open and welcoming to all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The passage of HB 218 or a similar measure will send a loud message across the country that Georgia is an unwelcoming place for LGBT Americans. Such a message threatens the state’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest workers, secure corporate relocations that spur the economy, support innovative entrepreneurship, and further develop its thriving travel and tourism industry. All of us have organizational members in Georgia; like them, we want Georgia’s brand to remain welcoming to all.