It is an open question whether HB 757, the “religious liberty” legislation now on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk will negate local ordinances in Atlanta and elsewhere that forbid discrimination by sexual orientation.
House Speaker David Ralston last week said the fate of such ordinances would be in the hands of the courts. Religious conservatives have identified the overturning of such local requirements as one of their primary objectives.
And yet, in Sandy Springs, we have Councilman Andy Bauman proposing just the opposite. He wants a local ordinance that offers LGBT protection. From the press release:
As a Sandy Springs Councilman, I am obligated to ensure that discrimination has no place in our community, and in the governance and operation of our City. To be very clear, I am not aware, nor do I believe, that Sandy Springs has discriminated against anybody based on their sexual orientation. I am proud of our City, and those who lead it. However, the City does not have a consistent or formal non-discrimination policy.
That is why, today, I am proposing that Sandy Springs adopt a formal policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and also the promotion of Equal Opportunity Employment. This will apply to all Sandy Springs government employment practices and procedures, and to all contractors and organizations who wish to do business with or on behalf of our City. It will also apply to the use of all City property including parks and recreation facilities, and the new Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.
This is not just a moral and legal issue, it is an economic imperative. Economic Development is one of our City’s adopted priorities, and I am proud Sandy Springs is home to many Fortune 500 and multi-national corporations. These companies have brought thousands of jobs and prestige to our City and many, if not most, have policies that speak unambiguously against any form of discrimination. We owe it to the business community to stand with them in support of those values.