On Tuesday, April 18th dozens of Macon-Bibb citizens came out to a county commission meeting to show support for an ordinance dealing with the county hiring or promoting gay and transgender people. In a six to three vote, commissioners took the first step in adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the county code as part of anti-discrimination language regarding appointments, employment and promotions. More than 200 people gathered in the Government Center and witnessed Bibb Commissioners approve the anti-discrimination measure. Since this ordinance deals with changing the county charter, it has to receive approval again at the next full commission meeting on May 2nd.
The ordinance passage marks a historic milestone in a series of LGBT supportive activities affecting Macon-Bibb. The majority of these actions have been spearheaded by local advocates Bentley Hudgins, Demarcus Beckham and Teri Hatley. Georgia Equality is proud to be playing a supporting role in Macon-Bibb, and working with these local advocates to help advance LGBT equality in their community. GE’s Wes Sanders attended the occasion to speak in support the measure. However his comments which informed the commissioners that 62 Georgia municipalities, already protect LGBT public employees from public discrimination were read into public record due to the limited number of speakers permitted.
There were opposition speakers in attendance asking the commission not to approve the change. Their claims include a statement that the changes would not be not good for Macon’s children, community, and people of faith; and there not evidence of people being discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However Commissioner Elaine Lucas spoke up in support of the change saying it is unfair when people don’t have the protection that they deserve, “cause discrimination, is discrimination, is discrimination.”
Last month GE’s Rob Woods participated in Macon’s Unity March where over 200 Macon citizens marched and rallied at Rosa Parks Square in Downtown Macon. The rally called for supporting comprehensive civil rights legislation then pending at the Gold Dome, additionally bringing attention to the need for protections in Macon. This action came on the heels of a resolution supporting the march and rally, and after another anti-discrimination resolution was narrowly passed by the County Commission with Mayor Robert Reichert casting the deciding vote.