State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Atlanta) appealed to patriotism, faith and "liberty and justice for all" during a hearing this morning asking lawmakers to protect state workers from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Drenner, the first openly gay member of the General Assembly, wants the bill to at least see a full committee vote before the legislature adjourns its annual session later this month.
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order to require companies that hold federal contracts to enact LGBT non-discrimination employment policies.
The petition was started by Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, an organization dedicated to protecting LGBT workers from harassment in the workplace.
According to Freedom to Work, some 16 million Americans who work with the federal government are unprotected from anti-gay discrimination on the job.
Georgia Equality is in the midst of a $15,000 fundraising campaign, hoping to reach the goal by Monday when the first day of the legislative session opens. And it needs the money to fend off nasty attacks being put out opposing an employment non-discrimination bill introduced late last session.
In an email to supporters, Georgia Equality points to a May newsletter of GeorgiaInsight.org to explain, "this is what we are up against" when it lobbies this year in favor of House Bill 630, an employment non-discrimination bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
The anti-gay newsletter states in part, "H.B. 630 gives civil rights protection to pedophiles, peeping toms, cross-dressers, flashers and those practicing bestiality or necrophilia (sex with corpse). The American Psychiatric Association (APA) lists these and other acts as deviant and abnormal sexual behaviors. They are chargeable offenses under Georgia law, as well."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear arguments in the federal discrimination lawsuit filed by a Georgia transgender woman who was fired from her state job after informing her employer she was transitioning from male to female.
Vandy Beth Glenn, represented by nonprofit LGBT legal organization Lambda Legal, sued the state of Georgia after she was fired in 2007 as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly.
In July 2010 a federal judge ruled the state illegally discriminated against Glenn and in August the judge ordered she be reinstated back to her job. During the appeals process, however, Glenn has been receiving her 2007 salary but has not been able to return to her job.
Despite concerns that new Gov. Nathan Deal might support legislation that would negatively affect LGBT Georgians, no specifically gay bills — positive or negative — have been filed since the legislature convened Jan. 10.
“There has been a lot of controversy in the Senate as usual, and the immigration stuff has started off with a bang,” said state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), who is the senior openly gay state legislator. “I don’t know how many bills they’re up to now, 15 maybe. Then of course the budget hearings, and so the shortfalls are coming to light, and the tax bills.”
Deal has released his budget, which does not include any cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps low income HIV-positive individuals and those with no insurance afford their medications.