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Celebrating Pride: Why Georgia's Local Governments (and 2019 Elections) Matter for LGBTQ Rights

This June, we celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month - and on a special occasion, too: it's the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City in 1969. This event helped spark the modern LGBTQ rights movement in America - while showing that monumental change starts with people acting within their own communities and neighborhoods. This is an example that is relevant to us today, right here in Georgia. On the one hand, despite progress in LGBTQ rights in the last 50 years, there's still a long way to go. Georgia still has no statewide protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. What's even worse, instead of being able to focus fully on pushing such positive legislation LGBTQ people and their allies, in the past several years, have had to spend much of their time under the Gold Dome beating back so-called "religious liberty" bills - bills that would allow employers and other entities to invoke religion as a license to discriminate.

On the other hand, we can see progress for LGBTQ rights in Georgia on another, more underappreciated level: local governments. Fortunately, though Georgia doesn't have statewide protections for LGBTQ people, a significant number of local governments - from Atlanta to Macon to Tybee Island - have passed ordinances that protect LGBTQ people from some forms of discrimination.¹ In fact, this month - just in time for Pride - Dunwoody added itself to the list.²

And that's why local governments matter - for LGBT rights and for many other issues. So, even though local elections this November 2019 won't get as much attention as the elections in November 2020, they could be just as consequential.

See how the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is honoring the Stonewall anniversary here: https://www.hrc.org/blog/with-50th-anniversary-of-stonewall-hrc-celebrates-half-a-century-of-pride. For a view from the perspective of workplace advocacy, see the article by Out and Equal at the following link: https://outandequal.org/revisiting-stonewall-activism-then-and-now/.

Sources

1 http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/GeorgiaNDReport-October-2014.pdf

2 https://www.projectq.us/atlanta/doraville_passes_historic_lgbtq_nondiscrimination_ordinance?gid=19361