The Macon-Bibb County Board of Commission approved an LGBT civil rights ordinance on Tuesday, voting six to three to change the county charter so that the county cannot prevent someone from being promoted or hired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Since the ordinance deals with changing the county charter, it has one more hurdle to go as the full commission meets again for a final vote on the measure on May 2.
13WMAZ reports that more than 200 people gathered for Tuesday’s vote, garnering a number of different opinions on the ordinance, like those of LGBT activist Bentley Hudgins, who told Georgia Voice that he worked with Commissioner Larry Schlesinger on the ordinance and helped organize a public response to it. During public comments, Hudgins cited a statistic provided to him by Georgia Equality Field Organizer Wes Sanders, saying that 62 other Georgia municipalities already protect LGBT public employees against discrimination. However, there were opposing views, like those of Pastor Tim McCoy of Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon.
“It’s not good for our children. It’s not good for our community. It’s not good for people of faith,” says McCoy.
Commissioner Scotty Shepherd spoke up saying he was voting against this ordinance because he says the charter is fine the way it is.
“I am convinced adding special anti-discrimination wording in our current code will lead to people thinking they have special rights and entitlements without regards to their abilities and qualifications,” says Shepherd.
Commissioner Elaine Lucas spoke up in support of the change saying it is unfair when people don’t have the protection that they deserve.
“Cause discrimination is discrimination is discrimination,” says Lucas.
Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham is calling on the commission to seal the deal on May 2.
“We’re very pleased to see the Bibb commission move toward protecting LGBT employees against discrimination and hope that they will vote decisively on May 2 to ensure that all employees are offered the same level of protection in the workplace,” Graham told Georgia Voice. “It has also been wonderful to see how engaged the local community is on ensuring that all LGBT folks are protected against discrimination.”