The history here is important. Back in 1964, the leadership of Georgia was steadfastly, adamantly and almost unanimously against passage of the Civil Rights Act. Both Georgia senators and all but one of its congressmen fought the legislation. In the Senate, U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell, for whom the federal building in downtown Atlanta is named, led a long and bitter filibuster, arguing that white Southerners had a “natural right to discriminate” that superseded the right of others to be treated equally. The Civil Rights Act, as Russell put it, was “an unconstitutional infringement upon one’s right to choose his associates….”
Today, the sponsors of HB 849 see it as a chance to set that awkward history right. But something is missing from the bill; something that obviously ought to be there is not there. This is 2016. If you're going to finally pass a state anti-discrimination statute in 2016, 52 years after the fact, shouldn't it also include a guarantee against discrimination against gay and transgender Georgians?