Ga. LGBT employment bill hearing today

Georgia’s Fair Employment Practices Act, a bill that would protect state employees from job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, will have a hearing before the state House Industry and Labor Committee on Thursday morning.

The bill — HB 427 — was introduced earlier this year by openly gay state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) and includes 11 Republican cosponsors, 55 Democratic cosponsors and one independent. It is scheduled for an informational hearing at 8 a.m. in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

Georgia Equality, which has been lobbying legislators to pass the bill, is asking people to call members of the committee to urge them to support the bill.

From Georgia Equality:

This legislation would extend workplace protections to state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Similar protections are currently offered by twenty-four states and the District of Columbia.
 Here in Georgia, there has been remarkable support for these basic workplace protections.  Currently there are at least 36 municipalities with similar policies and nearly 200 of Georgia’s largest private employers also extend these protections to their gay and transgender employees.
Recent polling indicates that 79% of voters statewide support the passage of this legislation, including 90% of voters under the age of 39.

The bill, first introduced in 2011, would add “sexual orientation” to protected statuses for public employment in Georgia. It defines “sexual orientation” as “a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender related identity or expression.”

“Treating LGBT employees fairly is simply better for business,” Drenner said when she reintroduced the bill in February.

“The Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act would also ensure that Georgia State colleges and universities are competitive with major research institutions in attracting and retaining the best and brightest researchers, students and administrators to study, work and develop new products, industries and jobs in Georgia,” Drenner said.

In 2012, the bill got a hearing before the House Judiciary subcommittee but was tabled.

Contacts for members of House Industry and Labor Committee

Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler

Rep. Pedro Marin

Rep. Terry England

Rep. Bruce Broadrick

Rep. Hugh Floyd

Rep. John Meadows

Rep. Jimmy Pruett

Rep. Chad Nimmer (Chairman)

Rep. Tom Kirby

Rep. Bob Bryant

Rep. Barry Fleming

Rep. Edward Lindsey

Photo: State Rep. Karla Drenner (file photo)