For nearly 20 years, Atlanta was the one metropolis in Georgia to have a nondiscrimination ordinance defending LGBTQ people from discrimination. Now different cities are becoming a member of its ranks.(Getty Photographs)
DUNWOODY, Ga.— Rachael Kates had by no means attended a Metropolis Council assembly the place she lives in Dunwoody. However she knew she needed to go when she heard what the metro Atlanta metropolis of slightly below 50,000 people was contemplating: a nondiscrimination ordinance that prohibits privately owned companies from discriminating in opposition to totally different teams, together with LGBTQ people.
“People don’t always understand why something is important until they have a face for it,” says Kates, who’s pansexual and gender fluid.
Throughout that assembly in June, Dunwoody handed its nondiscrimination ordinance, changing into the most recent metropolis in Georgia to move a legislation banning native companies from discriminating in opposition to clients and workers based mostly on their sexual orientation and gender id, in addition to race, shade, faith, nationwide origin, ancestry, intercourse, age, incapacity, marital standing, familial standing or veteran/army standing.
Whereas federal legislation prohibits discrimination in locations of public lodging – locations that supply items and providers to most of the people – on the idea of race, shade, faith, nationwide origin and incapacity, there are not any federal legal guidelines explicitly defending LGBTQ people from discrimination. In Might, the U.S. Home of Representatives handed the Equality Act, which might shield from LGBTQ discrimination in housing, employment, public lodging and different areas. The Senate, nevertheless, is unlikely to move the invoice.
For nearly 20 years, Atlanta was the one metropolis in Georgia to have a nondiscrimination ordinance defending LGBTQ people from discrimination. Then Doraville, a metropolis of simply over 10,000, handed its personal in November 2018, which addresses discrimination on the idea of identifiers equivalent to race, gender id and incapacity. That has impressed three different cities – up to now, all in metro Atlanta – to do the identical. Extra cities in Georgia are additionally contemplating a legislation of their very own.
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Their motion comes throughout a time when Georgia Republicans are pushing for a controversial “non secular liberty” legislation that may restrict the state’s capability to move legal guidelines that battle with non secular beliefs, and subsequently might permit people to refuse clients based mostly on sexual orientation.
Doraville Metropolis Council member Stephe Koontz, Georgia’s solely elected official who’s brazenly transgender, led the cost for that metropolis’s nondiscrimination legislation after she noticed a 2018 information story on a metro Atlanta landscaping firm that cited non secular beliefs to refuse service to a homosexual couple.
“It was clear to me that in Georgia, you can openly discriminate against people and there’s nothing anyone could do about it,” Koontz says. “That’s just not right.”
Discrimination towards LGBTQ people in Georgia made information as not too long ago as earlier this summer season, when the Rural America Satisfaction Committee tried to order motel rooms for its August competition to advertise LGBTQ acceptance in Clayton, a metropolis within the Blue Ridge Mountains. A motel supervisor initially blocked off the requested rooms and supplied a reduction, however later in June, the identical supervisor left a voicemail with the committee’s founder.
“After looking further into what your group stands for, we are rescinding our offer of a reduced room rate, and do not want to sponsor or offer support in any way,” the voicemail stated, in line with Atlanta information station 11Alive. The supervisor later cancelled the reservation.
Koontz wished to alter Doraville’s discrimination legal guidelines not just for the LGBTQ neighborhood, but in addition to guard town’s numerous inhabitants, which incorporates massive Hispanic and Asian communities. “We needed some sort of discrimination protections for the people that live here.”
Dunwoody started wanting right into a nondiscrimination legislation due to a tweet from a resident encouraging town to move an ordinance, after neighboring metropolis Brookhaven started contemplating one.
“I said, ‘You know what? We should look into this,'” stated Metropolis Council member Pam Tallmadge.
Along with adressing discrimination, the Dunwoody legislation requires the police division to obtain coaching on hate crimes. (Georgia is one in every of 4 states and not using a hate crime legislation.)
Although Utah and New York have handed LGBTQ-inclusive legal guidelines, few states have carried out so, says Laura Durso, vp of LGBT Analysis and Communications Undertaking on the Heart for American Progress, a progressive-leaning coverage analysis group. North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee banned native nondiscrimination ordinances altogether, she says.
“There’s been numerous debates in locations like Georgia and Florida and Ohio the place there’s state help for nondiscrimination however politically (they) have not been in a position to get it carried out,” Durson says. “Meanwhile, local cities and towns and counties have been passing inclusive nondiscrimination protections.”
Of the three states with no civil rights invoice to guard those that aren’t in any other case lined – equivalent to LGBTQ people – in opposition to discrimination in companies, Georgia cities have handed essentially the most native nondiscrimination legal guidelines. In Alabama, Birmingham and Montevallo have LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances for housing, public lodging and employment. Three cities in Mississippi, together with Jackson, have handed related legal guidelines.
In the meantime, in Georgia, Koontz says about six different cities – some outdoors of the Atlanta space – have requested Doraville for copies of its ordinance.
“I’m excited that other cities are seeing the need for this,” she says. “One of the things I hear people saying is, ‘Well, we don’t have any cases of discrimination in our city, so we don’t think there’s really any of this going on.’ Well, how would you have a record of a violation of something that’s not a law?”
Kates, who has lived in Dunwoody since 2011, says the legislation is essential for the Georgia cities which have it.
“Now there’s something that you can actually do,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to stand up for yourself when you know that you’re empowered to do so.”