More LGBT businesses, organizations sign on to be ‘safe zones’ to protest Georgia immigration law

“I think HB 87 borders on being racist,” said Bragg. “There could easily be laws against gay people or any groups of people. I definitely think our community should take a stand against this. In this economic climate, we should all work together — this law divides us.”

Charis Books & More co-owner Angela Gabriel said the feminist bookstore wanted to speak out against the law.

“We want people to know that Charis is a safe haven for all folks and that we do not agree with HB 87,” Gabriel said.

Paris Hatcher, a black queer woman who is executive director of SPARK!, a reproductive justice organization, is also a board member of Southerners on New Ground, an activist group supporting rural Southern LGBT people that opposes HB 87.

“I’m really excited about LGBTQ organizations and businesses taking the lead and creating safe spaces,” Hatcher said. “It makes sense because those of us who have experienced oppression and legislation based on our identity need to stand in solidarity.

“As queer people we know what it’s like for legislation to be used to try to break up our families. And there are queer immigrants who are also trying to navigate through this. If we put power and faith in the community, change will happen,” she said.

Southerners on New Ground and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force joined Latino and labor organizations as well as other human rights groups in calling for a national boycott of Georgia if Deal signed the bill into law.

The NGLTF sent a letter to Gov. Deal last month asking him to veto the bill and informing him that if he signed the bill into law, its annual Creating Change conference planned for Atlanta in 2013 would be located in another state.

The law requires employers with more than 10 employees to use the federal E-verify system to determine if employees are in the country legally and also authorizes law enforcement to ask for proof of citizenship when they find a situation warrants it. The law has been dubbed by some opponents as the “Show me your papers” law.

The sponsor of HB 87, state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), issued a statement on May 13 to laud Gov. Deal’s decision to sign the legislation.

“I applaud Governor Deal’s signing of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which includes numerous common-sense reforms aimed at addressing the social and economic consequences in Georgia resulting from the federal government’s inability to secure our nation’s borders.

“HB 87 is a comprehensive and necessary effort to enforce the rule of law and protect the taxpayers of Georgia from being forced to subsidize the presence of nearly 500,000 illegal aliens in our state,” he said.

“This is not simply an immigration issue, but also a problem that burdens our state’s schools, healthcare system and law enforcement community. Georgia’s taxpayers have demanded action to enforce the rule of law and, where the federal government has failed, their state government has listened and delivered,” Ramsey added.


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