LGBT rights in Georgia (U.S. state)

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Map of USA GA.svg
StatusLegal since 1998
(Powell v. Georgia)
Gender identitySex change legal
Discrimination protectionsNo sexual orientation protections statewide (see below);
Gender identity protected under Glenn v. Brumby
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges)
AdoptionSame-sex couples allowed to adopt

LGBT residents in the U.S. state of Georgia face legal and social challenges not faced by non-LGBT individuals. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1998, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2015.

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

Homosexual acts are legal in Georgia, previously criminalized until the state's sodomy laws (which applied to both homosexuals and heterosexuals) were struck down in 1998 by Powell v. Georgia (years before the 2003 federal-level strikedown by Lawrence v. Texas).

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

On November 2, 2004, Georgia voters approved Constitutional Amendment 1, which made it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions.[1]

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right to marry must be guaranteed to same-sex couples. As a result, same-sex marriages became legal in the state of Georgia, along with all other U.S. states where such marriages were banned. Following the Supreme Court ruling, all Georgia counties began immediately (or were either willing) to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[2]

Domestic partnership[edit]

Prior to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriages, some cities and counties in Georgia offered domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples, which granted some of the marriage rights. Domestic partnerships were recognized by the cities of Athens,[3] Atlanta,[4] Avondale Estates,[5] Clarkston,[6] Decatur,[7] Doraville,[8] East Point,[9] Pine Lake[9] and Savannah,[8] as well as DeKalb County[10] and Fulton County.[11]

Adoption and parental rights[edit]

On February 23, 2018, the Georgia State Senate passed the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act (or SB 375), that called for allowing private adoption agencies receiving state funds to deny adoptions for certain couples or individual parents based on religious beliefs.[12] Opponents claimed the bill targeted same-sex couples and LGBT individuals seeking to adopt. The Georgia House of Representatives did not eventually vote on the bill, effectively killing it.[13]

On March 5, 2018, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law bill HB 159, which includes no restrictions against same-sex couples seeking to adopt.[14]

There are no restrictions on either IVF or surrogacy.[15][16]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Map of Georgia counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances:
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

Georgia law does not protect against employee discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, some cities and counties in the state have enacted local ordinances banning such discrimination in varying degrees.[17]

The cities of Atlanta,[18] Clarkston[19] and Doraville[20] have ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in both public and private employment.

Gwinnett County has a Human Relations Commission that ensures fair and equal treatment and opportunity for all persons, with protections including gender identity and sexual orientation.[21]

Additional cities have enacted more limited protections, prohibiting discrimination against public municipal employees only. The cities of Athens,[22] Augusta,[23] Avondale Estates,[24] Columbus,[25] Decatur,[26] Macon,[27] Pine Lake[28] and Savannah[29] have ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public employment, while the cities of East Point[30], Sandy Springs[31], and Tybee Island[30], as well as the counties of DeKalb[30] and Fulton[32] have similar anti–discrimination ordinances in public employment covering only sexual orientation.

Glenn v. Brumby[edit]

Note that statutory law does not provide protections based on gender identity, but on December 6, 2011, in Glenn v. Brumby, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling that firing someone based on gender-nonconformity violates the Constitution’s prohibition on sex discrimination. The Court of Appeals found the Georgia General Assembly had discriminated against Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who was fired from her job as legislative editor after telling her supervisor that she planned to transition from male to female. This effectively provides legal protections to transgender and gender non-conforming employees in the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.[33]

Anti–bullying laws[edit]

Georgia law bans bullying at schools,[34] though it does not list individual protected groups.[35]

Nonetheless, DeKalb County[36] and Fulton County[37] have regulations for teachers that address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Gwinnett County Public schools prohibits discrimination by sexual orientation in their Student Conduct Behavior Code.[38]

Hate crime law[edit]

The state of Georgia has currently no hate crime law that covers sexual orientation or gender identity.[39]

However, sexual orientation and gender identity are covered under the U.S. federal hate crime law since Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law in October 2009.

On March 7, 2019, the Georgia House of Representatives passed HB 426, a hate crime bill that covers crimes biased by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the State Senate.[40][41]

Gender reassignment[edit]

Georgia permits post-operative transgender people to amend their sex on their birth certificates.[42]

Public opinion[edit]

A March 2004 Associated Press Exit Poll found that 42% of Georgia voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 17% supporting same-sex marriage, 25% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, and 50% favoring no legal recognition.[43]

A 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 27% of Georgia residents thought same-sex marriage should be legal, while 65% thought it should be illegal, while 8% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 57% of Georgia residents supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 24% supporting same-sex marriage, 33% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, and 40% favoring no legal recognition, with 3% not sure.[44]

An August 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 32% of Georgia residents thought same-sex marriage should be legal, while 60% thought it should be illegal, while 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 57% of Georgia residents supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 28% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, and 39% favoring no legal recognition, with 3% unsure.[45]

A September 2013 Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey found that 48% of Georgia residents thought same-sex marriage should be legal, while 43% thought it should be illegal, while 9% were not sure.[46]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll found that 52% of Georgia residents supported same-sex marriage, while 39% opposed it and 10% were unsure.[47] The same poll also found that 65% of Georgians supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity, while 29% were opposed.[48] Furthermore, 56% were against allowing businesses to refuse to serve gay and lesbian people due to religious beliefs, while 34% supported allowing such religiously-based refusals.[49]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1998, see Powell v. State)
Equal age of consent Yes[50]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No/Yes (some cities and counties only)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No/Yes (some cities only)
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity Yes (since 2011, under Glenn v. Brumby)
Same-sex marriage Yes (since 2015)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes[51]
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes[51]
Adoption by single people regardless of sexual orientation Yes[51]
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (see sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States military)
Right to change legal gender No/Yes (requires sex reassignment surgery)
Access to IVF for lesbian couples Yes[15]
Conversion therapy banned by law No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Yes[16]
MSMs allowed to donate blood No/Yes (since 2015, one year deferral period according to federal policy)[52]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Election 2004 - Ballot Measures". CNN. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  2. ^ Bluestein, Greg (June 29, 2015). "Top Georgia court official: Judges 'are following the law' on gay marriages". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  3. ^ Shaikh, Ameer (October 21, 2011). "Domestic Partnership in Georgia". The Atlanta Family Law News Blog.
  4. ^ "Domestic Partnership". City of Atlanta. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  5. ^ Michael K. Lavers (July 24, 2013). "Atlanta suburb approves domestic partnership registry". Washington Blade.
  6. ^ "Domestic Partnership". City of Clarkston. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  7. ^ Paul, Péralte (December 17, 2013). "Decatur City Commission Approves Domestic Partnership Registry". Patch Media.
  8. ^ a b "Savannah approves domestic partner benefits". The Georgia Voice. October 15, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Partners Task Force - Governments Offering Benefits § Georgia". buddybuddy.com. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  10. ^ § 20-200. Definitions, Article X. Domestic Partnerships, Chapter 20. Personnel, Code Of Dekalb County, Code of Ordinances, DeKalb County
  11. ^ "Georgia Domestic Partnership Laws". FindLaw. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  12. ^ Mindock, Clark (February 26, 2018). "Georgia votes for adoption law that would let agencies deny gay couples". The Independent.
  13. ^ Niesse, Mark (March 22, 2018). "Georgia lawmakers unlikely to pass adoption bill affecting gay couples". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  14. ^ Lou Chibbaro Jr. (March 8, 2018). "Ga. governor signs LGBT 'neutral' adoption bill". Washington Blade.
  15. ^ a b "LGBT Family Building". Atlanta Fertility Clinic. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Gay/LGBT Surrogacy in GA, NC, SC, TN, AL". southernsurrogacy.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Georgia". Freedom for All Americans. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  18. ^ "Atlanta, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  19. ^ "Clarkston beefs up its anti-discrimination policies". Project Q. February 4, 2009.
  20. ^ Saunders, Patrick (November 6, 2018). "Doraville passes historic LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance". Project Q.
  21. ^ https://www.ajc.com/news/local/gwinnett-human-relations-commission-elects-new-chairman/YQrFvjUrdnPEu5B2VYAGwJ/
  22. ^ "Athens-Clarke, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  23. ^ Stahl, Shane (June 20, 2018). "Augusta, GA Approves LGBTQ Employment Protections for Municipal Employees". Freedom for All Americans.
  24. ^ "Avondale Estates, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  25. ^ "Columbus, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  26. ^ "Decatur, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  27. ^ Saunders, Patrick (April 21, 2017). "Macon-Bibb commission approves LGBT civil rights ordinance". The Georgia Voice.
  28. ^ "Non-Discrimination Laws that include gender identity and expression". Transgender Law and Policy Institute. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  29. ^ Hennie, Matt (December 11, 2015). "Savannah expands protections for LGBT residents". Project Q.
  30. ^ a b c "Georgia – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Documentation of Discrimination" (PDF). Williams Institute. September 2009.
  31. ^ "Sandy Springs, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  32. ^ "Roswell, Georgia". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  33. ^ Examples of Court Decisions Supporting Coverage of LGBT-Related Discrimination Under Title VII
  34. ^ "Georgia Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies". stopbullying.gov. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  35. ^ "School Anti-Bullying". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  36. ^ "Board Policy on Bullying". DeKalb Preparatory Academy. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  37. ^ "Student Code of Conduct & Discipline Handbook" (PDF). Fulton County Schools. p. 14. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  38. ^ "Student Conduct Behavior Code". www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  39. ^ Badertscher, Nancy (June 30, 2015). "Georgia one of a handful of states without hate crime laws". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  40. ^ Lowry, Donna (March 8, 2019). "Georgia House Passes Hate Crimes Bill". Georgia Public Broadcasting.
  41. ^ "HB 426". Georgia General Assembly. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  42. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Georgia Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues Archived 2012-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, accessed July 6, 2011
  43. ^ "Georgia: March 2004 – Associated Press Exit Poll – Majority Oppose Any Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  44. ^ "GA Republicans split on secession, Deal vulnerable" (PDF). 12/7/2012. Public Policy Polling.
  45. ^ "Hillary competitive in Georgia" (PDF). Public Policy Polling.
  46. ^ Georgia gets gay marriage when old people die
  47. ^ Public opinion on same-sex marriage by state: Georgia. PRRI – American Values Atlas.
  48. ^ Public opinion on LGBT nondiscrimination laws by state: Georgia. PRRI – American Values Atlas.
  49. ^ Public opinion on religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people by state: Georgia. PRRI – American Values Atlas.
  50. ^ "Georgia Age of Consent & Statutory Rape Laws". ageofconsent.net. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  51. ^ a b c "LGBT Adoption Laws Georgia". lifelongadoptions.com. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  52. ^ Painter, Kim (December 21, 2015). "FDA: Gay, bisexual men can donate blood, but only after a year without sex with men". USA Today.