I went to the Georgia State Capital today, with my loving partner of 16 years in tow, taking a half vacation day, so that I could go and voice my thoughts regarding Georgia House Bill 1023 and Senate Bill 377 otherwise known as “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.”
I stood in a cramped room with over 100 others waiting for the members of a House Subcommittee that will be deciding whether to fast track this bill. I stood over two hours before getting fed up and leaving without the subcommittee ever showing up. I left before brandishing the little homemade protest sign in my pocket.
The bills in question, which lawmakers have spent their last two weeks in session working on instead of bills to fix what’s actually wrong in the state, wipe out virtually ALL anti-discrimination protections in the state including those few that protect Georgia’s LGBT citizens.
The bills would:
“Allow individuals and private organizations to claim an imposition on their religious freedoms to make decisions otherwise protected by current law.” Employers could discriminate against potential employees based on race, sex, age, pregnancy, nationality and even religion “under the guise of protecting the employer’s religious freedom.”
The bills are written to limit some of our most basic protections — including access to birth control for women, protection from state-sanctioned discrimination against Gays and the right to public accommodations for everyone. For example, they allow:
- An employer to fire a woman who remarried after a divorce or who is pregnant and not married.
- A person who claims their religion demands pacifism and non-violence to refuse to rent an apartment to a tenant who owns a gun.
- The owner of a sandwich shop to refuse to serve a gay customer.
- The owner of a car dealership to refuse to sell a car to an married interracial couple.
- A healthcare worker to refuse a woman a prescribed medication.
- A counselor be exempted from state required licensing requirements.
“The bill applies not just to individuals but also to for profit and secular corporations and organizations. These businesses entered the stream of commerce for monetary gain and thus should not be allowed to reap the benefits of the marketplace but not have to play by the same rules as everyone else.”
– Georgia Equality
Yes Gays are angry but everyone should be!!!
That the House and Senate are pushing forward the two bills simultaneously instead of following their normal practice of clearing one chamber then going to another shows they are trying to be sneaky. That there has been virtually no press coverage is yet another sign. They don’t know if this is what the people want. It’s what they want. Almost every one of them is Republican.
Yet as outraged as I was by these bills and as much as I wanted to make my voice heard, I was hit by a shocking realization. No one really cares. No one but me and some lawyers and lobbyists that filled that room and a group of mostly college-aged kids rounded up by an activist organization. I think my partner and I may have been the only two people in the room that were not “connected” to the political process!
And when I say no one cares, I mean almost no one obviously but I have 338 Facebook Friends and I can count on my two hands the number of them that cared enough to “like” my posts much less comment. I did get a couple heartfelt comments that I appreciate dearly but I ask myself
“Why don’t they care???”
I have friends who are women, Jewish friends, GOOD Christian friends (as opposed to the bigoted kind). You should care. What can be taken from me can be taken from you and these bills do just that.
I know I post a lot of stuff and can’t (and don’t) expect everyone to “like” or comment on everything. I know many of you have probably blocked my posts because you don’t like hearing about everything that’s going on (you’re just not as political as I am, I get it). I even get that some of you live in other states so you think it’s not your concern. But I say it is. If it happens in Arizona and it happens in Georgia and it almost happened in Kansas and is going on in 4 or 5 other states simultaneously, it can happen where you are. The wheels of justice are slow but they go even slower when no one cares. The wheels of injustice, however, speed up when no one cares.
Please care!!! It is important and does effect you. Not just those Damn Fags!!
– M Scott Grohocki Proctor