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Georgia Senate Committee Passes Anti-LGBT 'License to Discriminate' Bill

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The Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee has moved forward with an anti-LGBT "license to discriminate" bill, Atlanta's WABE reports:

MckoonOn Monday, a Senate committee made changes to the bill. Supporters say it’s now closer to a federal act that passed Congress in 1993 and was signed by President Bill Clinton. Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, is sponsoring the bill.

“I’m very pleased we were able to come to an agreement that protects the religious liberty for each and every Georgian," says Mckoon (right), “while sending a clear message that none of us are trying to use this as a vehicle to be a license to discriminate.”

Supporters say the new bill makes it clear it doesn’t apply to private companies but only to government. Gay rights activists say the legislation is better than what was originally proposed, but they’re still concerned.

“This language is still not something that we’re going to be able to support,” Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, says. “We do feel that it still opens the door for action, for individuals and companies to continue to discriminate against people.”

The bill now moves to the full Senate, which is controlled 38-18 by Republicans. 

BowersGeorgia's push to further enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law has faced opposition from an unlikely source recently: Mike Bowers. Bowers was the former Georgia Attorney General who defended the state's sodomy law in the landmark Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick. Last month, he spoke out against such proposals as an "excuse to practice invidious discrimination."


Mike Bowers, Man Who Defended Sodomy Bans, Says He Is A Changed Man on LGBT Rights: VIDEO

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Mike Bowers, the former Georgia Attorney General who defended the state’s sodomy ban, has spoken to Buzzfeed about how his opinions on gay rights have evolved over the last 30 years.

Bowers, who in 1986 successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to allow state bans on “homosexual sodomy,” earlier this week announced his opposition to “deeply troubling” pending religious liberty legislation in the state.

According to Bowers, the timing of the proposed legislation is suspect as it comes in the wake of the many recent marriage equality decisions. Moreover, the state proposals provide for broader exemptions than federal protections, so that “any time a person wished to refuse to act in response to a government requirement, he or she could assert the protection of the proposed [Religious Freedom Restoration Act on which the proposals are based].”

Bowers was asked by LGBT group Georgia Equality to assess the bill.  Once he’d read it, he decided it needed to be killed because it would allow people “to use religion as an excuse for his or her interpretation of the law and to get out from under this, that, or the other law.”

On the issue of same-sex marriage, he said:

“I want people to be left alone.

“I genuinely believe that everybody, all people, need someone to love and be loved by. I truly believe that.”

Watch a 2012 interview with Bowers reflecting on his time in Georgia politics, AFTER THE JUMP..

Continue reading "Mike Bowers, Man Who Defended Sodomy Bans, Says He Is A Changed Man on LGBT Rights: VIDEO" »


LGBT Georgians Find Unlikely Ally In Former Defender Of State's Anti-Sodomy Law: VIDEO

Bowers

Mike Bowers, the former Georgia Attorney General, has announced his opposition to “deeply troubling” pending religious liberty legislation in the state despite a long history of opposing gay rights, reports Buzzfeed.

Bowers, who served as attorney general from 1981 to 1997, defended Georgia’s sodomy law in the landmark Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick. He also ignominiously rescinded a job offer to Robin Shahar after he found out that she planned to have a same-sex commitment ceremony with her then-partner. In 2013, Shahar was appointed as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's LGBT adviser.

Despite this anti-LGBT past, Bowers is expected to hold a news conference tomorrow to discuss his analysis of the pending legislation which is modeled in part on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

He has said that the legislation would provide an “excuse to practice invidious discrimination” and "permit everyone to become a law unto themselves in terms of deciding what laws they will or will not obey, based on whatever religious tenets they may profess or create at any given time.”

Additionally, Bowers has concluded that the measures could be used to “justify putting hoods back on the Ku Klux Klan” because people could use religious exemptions to the Anti-Mask Act which aimed to reduce the KKK’s presence in the state.

Watch a 2012 interview with Bowers relecting on his time in Georgia politics, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "LGBT Georgians Find Unlikely Ally In Former Defender Of State's Anti-Sodomy Law: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Files Discrimination Lawsuit: VIDEO

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Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired last month by the city’s Mayor Kasim Reed for publishing a controversial book labeling homosexuality as a “sexual perversion,” has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, reports AJC.com.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c70f613f970b-800wiCochran was initially suspended from his position last November after employees came forward to complain about the anti-gay opinions he had expressed in self-published book Who Told You That You Are Naked?, which also compared homosexuality with bestiality and pederasty.

Cochran will be represented by Christian litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization known for actively spreading anti-gay hate around the world.

Late last month, Cochran filed a federal discrimination complaint contending religious discrimination. City spokeswoman Anne Torres said at the time that it intends to fully defend Reed's decision.

Reed has said that the firing was not a direct result of homophobic comments in the book, but because of Cochran's ability to manage the department and his failure to get clearance to write the book.

Watch a report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Files Discrimination Lawsuit: VIDEO" »


Anti-gay Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Says God Has Promised Him Vindication: VIDEO

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Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired last month because of anti-gay remarks in a self-published book, has compared himself to Jesus, Job and other biblical figures, reports GA Voice.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c70f613f970b-800wiCochran was initially suspended from his position for one month last November for going against city policy by writing and self-publishing a book comparing homosexuality with bestiality and pederasty titled Who Told You That You Are Naked?

Last month, he officially filed a federal discrimination complaint contending that the termination of employment was a case of religious discrimination.

In a January 25th at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia, Cochran said that God spoke to him to explain that his firing was “God-induced suffering”:

“This is not as a result of something that I didn’t do that God is chastening me for, this is something that God has chosen to do because of his purpose and design for not just me and my family but for a greater cause for the kingdom of God.

“God reminded me that I’m in pretty good company when it comes to God-induced sufferings. He reminded me, brothers and sisters, that Job was just minding his own business, being a faithful husband, taking good care of his children, minding his flocks in his fields and god volunteered him for an unimaginable God-induced suffering. But after he endured the suffering, God blessed him with twice as much as all that he had prior to the suffering.”

Cochran also reiterated his belief that “you can’t be fruitful and multiply unless you have a man and a woman."

Watch the sermon, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-gay Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Says God Has Promised Him Vindication: VIDEO" »


Homophobic Fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Files Federal Discrimination Complaint

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Fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran officially filed a federal discrimination complaint contending that he faced religious discrimination after the city fired him for publishing a book with controversial, homophobic statements reports ajc.comChief Cochran mentioned that he was considering filing the complaint at a rally orchestrated by the Georgia Baptist Convention to reinstate him last week. The complaint filed on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by Cochran's attorney, Jonathan Crumly, alleges violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 by the City of Atlanta. Attorney Crumly, who is allied with group Alliance Defending Freedom that has rallied to Cochran's defense, issued a statement on behalf of Cochran.

Said Crumly:

"Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts. We are continuing to evaluate all available legal options to vindicate Chief Cochran after his unjust termination."

Atlanta city spokeswoman Anne Torres said the city did not know of the complaint, but it intends to fully defend mayor Kasim Reed's decision to fire Cochran. Reed affirmed in past statements that Cochran's firing was not a direct result of homophobic comments in the book, but because of Cochran's ability to manage the department and disregard for obeying the rules including not getting clearance to write the book.

Cochran, a deacon at Elizabeth Baptist Church, claims in his EEOC complaint that he did obtain permission from the city's ethics office to publish the book but was later told he also needed the mayor's permission and that he also violated "unspecified policies." Cochran says top city officials told him their investigation showed "zero" instances where he discriminated against anyone as chief.


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