CHICAGO - Today American Library Association President Sari Feldman and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) Chair Peter Coyl released a joint letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal urging him to veto House Bill 757. The bill is yet another example of a disturbing trend of state legislators working to adopt religious freedom laws that would guarantee that businesses have the right to exercise their constitutional freedom of religion in regard to the services they offer to the public.
If passed the legislation will give pastors the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages and also allow Georgia businesses to deny service to individuals whose lifestyles conflict with their religious beliefs.
The full text of their letter follows:
Governor Nathan Deal
Office of the Governor
206 Washington Street
111 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Dear Governor Deal,
We are writing to you today to ask that you veto House Bill 757. This legislation will hinder the civil liberties of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) constituents and provide an opportunity to legalize intolerance.
House Bill 757 contradicts the fundamental values of the American Library Association (ALA) and undermines civil rights and the fundamental principles upon which libraries are founded. Because libraries are a microcosm of the larger society, they play an important and unique role in the communities that they serve and must seek to provide an inclusive environment where all are treated with respect and dignity.
The ALA believes that the struggle against racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination is a continuous effort and must be addressed. Thus, the American Library Association will endeavor to ensure full representation of all members of society regardless of sexual orientation. This effort is reflected within ALA policies, procedures, and programs, as well as in its relations with staff, members, stakeholders, and the community at large, thereby reaffirming its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual respect for all human beings.
The ALA is more than 58,000 members strong and supports efforts to abolish intolerance. If HB 757 is placed into law, it will have a profound impact regarding our Association’s relationship to the State of Georgia. The American Library Association (ALA) is scheduled to host its 2017 Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta and will make a significant economic investment in that event. Discriminatory legislation will make it difficult for our members to attend and neither our Board nor our members are likely to support future meetings in Georgia.
Librarians, library workers, and library advocates call on you, Governor Deal, to veto HB 757 and to stand up for what is right and oppose intolerance in Georgia.
American Library Association
ALA GLBT Round Table