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|Gay organization joins in call for national boycott of Georgia|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|April 07, 2011 13:52|
The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force is among a group of national activist groups urging Georgia legislators and Gov. Nathan Deal to not allow immigration bills HB 87 and SB 40 become into law. If the bills do become law, the groups say a national boycott of Georgia will be planned.
In a letter to Gov. Deal, Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said plans to hold its 25th annual Creating Change Conference in Atlanta Jan. 23-27, 2013, are in the works. However, if the bills become laws, the Task Force will look to another state to host one of the largest LGBT conferences in the country.
“You may ask why an organization that works to ensure full legal equality and social acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people would take an interest in immigration law and policy,” Carey wrote to Deal in a letter sent to him today.
“The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has long recognized that immigrant communities and cultures are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We believe that all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, race, color, class, creed and religion, age and ability deserve fair and just treatment from all entities of government, including the state of Georgia,” Carey added.
Carey also said that the 2010 Creating Conference held in Dallas generated some $4 million to the city of Dallas, according to the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A rally attracting thousands of people against HB 87 and SB 40 was held at the state Capitol on March 24. Click here to watch a video of Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls and state Rep. Simone Bell, the second openly gay state legislator elected, speak out against the proposed bills.
Other groups involved in calling for a national boycott of Georgia if HB 87 and SB 40 become laws include Southerners on New Ground and the National Day Laborers Organizing Network.
“A boycott will undoubtedly hurt the state of Georgia as it did the state of Arizona and our Governor will be squarely to blame if he does not do the right thing and commit to vetoing these anti-immigrant bills," said Paulina Hernandez, co-director of Southerners on New Ground, in a statement. Hernandez identifies as a queer Latina.
A recent story in the New York Times stated Arizona lost $45 million in convention revenue six months after passage of its controversial immigration bill.
B. Loewe, a spokesperson for NDLON, said in a statement, “We are currently prepared to contact all conventions, organizations, companies, cities, counties, and states that participated in the Arizona boycott to advise them of the current status of Georgia’s legislation and tell them to be ready to change plans, divest, and/or issue travel alerts to avoid the state of Georgia.”
State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said he and others support a national boycott if the bills become law.
"If House bill 87 passes and the Governor refuses to veto it, we, in Georgia, will call for a boycott. These laws have devastating effects on families, students, workers, and entire communities. People of good conscience will find other places for their vacations and conventions until this state gets back on the right side of history," Fort said in a statement.
On March 3, lawmakers passed House Bill 87, named the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 201" but called by opponents the "Show Me Your Papers" law. HB 87 is sponsored by state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City).
The bills are now being considered for final passage in the waning days of the legislative session.
The legislation will "protect citizens from an unlawful burden on taxpayer-funded services by requiring the use of only secure and verifiable identification documents for any official purpose, including the dispensation of public benefits," Ramsey stated in a press release.
Among other things, the bills give local police authority to stop people and ask them to verify their citizenship status and also mandate employers use E-verify, a federal database, which Congress set up as a voluntary resource for employers to check the immigration status of potential employees.
In a response to the March 24 rally, Ramsey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "In contrast to these liberal sign-waiving activists at the Capitol, all over the state today there are millions of Georgia citizens working and raising their families who no longer are willing to accept the loss of job opportunities to the nearly 500,000 illegal aliens in our state or to subsidize their presence with their hard earned tax dollars."
Top photo: Atlanta's lesbian duo the Indigo Girls performed at a March 24 rally at the Georgia Capitol to show their opposition to two immigration bills being considered by state lawmakers. (by Dyana Bagby)
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