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State reps introduce anti-discrimination bill

Avondale Estates Metro ATL

State reps introduce anti-discrimination bill

State Rep. Karla Drenner. Source: Facebook

State Rep. Karla Drenner. Source: Facebook

This story has been updated. 

State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates and state Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, have reintroduced an anti-discrimination bill that would bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

House Bill 323, the Fair Employment Practices Act, has 77 co-sponsors, including 17 Republicans. But that doesn’t mean it will pass.

Drenner, who is openly gay, noted that the bill has been introduced in prior legislative sessions, but has stalled.

“This is the third time I’ve introduced it,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot more signatures.”

Other signatures include state Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, and state Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.

Willard has described himself as a “Theodore Roosevelt Republican,” and says he’s fiscally conservative and socially progressive.

“Wendell’s a great guy,” Drenner said.

Willard said “there’s a need to put this issue to rest.”

“That’s what we’re saying, the state employees (should) be recognized on their talent and ability not on their sexual orientation,” Willard said. “We’re doing same thing as all the other employers of the state do.That’s really an appropriate thing to do.”

In a press release about the bill, Willard said, “FEPA will bring the state of Georgia’s employment policies in line with over 200 Georgia companies, such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Cox Enterprises, UPS, and SunTrust Banks.”

The press release notes that similar legislation has been approved in 25 states and Washington D.C. It’s also part of employment policy in 58 Georgia cities and counties.