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Ga. House Democrats hold hearing on bill to curb public funds going to anti-gay private schools

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Georgia House Democrats, including openly lesbian Reps. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) and Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), held a public forum today to discuss six pieces of proposed legislation focused on education.

The proposed bills, four of which have already been filed during the current legislative session, include The Restore & Build HOPE Act, the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Education Transparency Act, the Parent Protection Act, the Drop-Out Deterrent Act and the End Cyber-Bullying Act.

The Anti-Discrimination Act, which has not yet been finalized, would ensure that private schools that receive funding from Schools Scholarship Organizations could not use public funds towards discriminating against students based on race, religion, national origin, sexuality or disability.

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Employment bill tops LGBT agenda in Ga. legislature

Georgia's lesbian lawmakers

As Georgia’s three openly lesbian lawmakers return to work under the iconic Gold Dome as the 2013 legislative session convenes Jan. 14, they face the daunting task of trying to find a voice in a predominantly Republican-controlled General Assembly.

Republicans will enter the 2013 legislative session with a near-constitutional majority after a particularly good election year for conservative lawmakers at the local level.  But despite the national tide turning toward LGBT equality, Georgia’s gay lawmakers and activists have an uphill battle to continue the advance in an unfriendly legislative atmosphere.

Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham said work will continue, despite the Republican majority. Georgia, after all, is not new to conservative politics.

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Georgia Equality seeks end-of-year fundraising goal

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Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization, has set a fundraising goal of $15,000 before the end of the calendar year. The money, Executive Director Jeff Graham says, will go toward helping fund GE's upcoming participation in the Georgia General Assembly's 2013 legislative session.

“Some of it will used to pay for lobbyists,” Graham says. “Some will be used to pay for advocacy costs. Some will be used for staff time to coordinate interns, volunteers and to be able to monitor hearings and to participate in hearings.”

GE's annual budget is much higher than $15,000, but the money raised from this fundraising drive will go to a variety of causes and initiatives in the coming year. Through Friday, Dec. 21, a private donor has promised to match up to $1,000 in donations to GE. This donor has pledged $4,000 in matching donations, Graham says, and has already matched more than $3,000 so far.

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[Video] Georgians to protest Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays Bill’

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Gay activists and allies plan Wednesday to protest Uganda's "Kill the Gays Bill" at the Georgia State Capitol from noon to 1 p.m.

Organized by J.R. Rich, the Facebook invite to the protest describes the Uganda bill as "genocide" and states, "It is 2012 and there is still genocide in  the world and we can not let it happen! PLEASE join the fight and let your lawmakers know you want them to speak up and end this atrocity!"

Leaders in Uganda are pushing the bill to be passed soon as a "Christmas gift to the people of Uganda" as stated in the video below that was posted to YouTube on Nov. 12.