LGBT rights in Georgia
Map of USA GA.svg
StatusLegal since 1998
(Powell v. Georgia)
Gender identitySex change legal
Discrimination protectionsEnacted on June 26, 2020;
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 enjoy most of the same rights and liberties as non-LGBT Georgians. LGBT rights in the state have been a recent occurrence, with most improvements occurring from the 2010s onward. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1998, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2015. In addition, the state's largest city Atlanta, has a vibrant LGBT community and holds the biggest Pride parade in the Southeast.[1] The state's hate crime laws, effective since June 26, 2020, explicitly include sexual orientation.[2][3]

Laws against homosexuality

See also: Sodomy laws in the United States § State and territorial laws prior to Lawrence v. Texas

Homosexuality was previously criminalized based on the sodomy laws (which applied to both homosexuals and heterosexuals) which was struck down in 1998 by Powell v. Georgia (years before the 2003 federal-level strikedown by Lawrence v. Texas).

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Atlanta Pride, 2007

Same-sex marriage

Main article: Same-sex marriage in Georgia (U.S. state)

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.[4]

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.[5]

Domestic partnership

See also: Cities and counties in the United States offering a domestic partnership registry § Georgia

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,[6] Atlanta,[7] Avondale Estates,[8] Clarkston,[9] Decatur,[10] Doraville,[11] East Point,[12] Pine Lake[12] and Savannah,[11] as well as DeKalb County[13] and Fulton County.[14]

Adoption and parental rights

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.[15] 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.[16]

The bill was reintroduced by Senator Marty Harbin on February 5, 2020, under the name SB 368, and is soon to be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.[17]

On March 5, 2018, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law bill HB 159, which includes no restrictions against same-sex couples seeking to adopt.[18]

There are no restrictions on either IVF or surrogacy.[19][20]

Discrimination protections

Further information: LGBT employment discrimination in the United States

Map of Georgia counties and cities that enacted sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances prior to Bostock v. Clayton County: .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  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
Map of Georgia counties and cities that enacted sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances prior to Bostock v. Clayton County:
  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

Since June 26, 2020, Georgia protects its citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Prior to Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, state law did 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.[21]

The cities of Atlanta,[22] Clarkston[23] and Doraville[24] 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.[25] In 2020, County Commissioner Ku stated that internal Gwinnett County policies were updated to provide protection that includes protections with gender identity and sexual orientation for public employment.[26] In May 2021, The Columbus city council passed a resolution to make a create a similar panel, which will be voted on for approval by August 31.[27]

Additional cities have enacted more limited protections, prohibiting discrimination against public municipal employees only. The cities of Athens,[28] Augusta,[29] Avondale Estates,[30] Columbus,[31] Decatur,[32] Macon,[33] Pine Lake[34] and Savannah[35] have ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public employment, while the cities of East Point,[36] Sandy Springs,[37] and Tybee Island,[36] as well as the counties of DeKalb[36] and Fulton[38] have similar anti–discrimination ordinances in public employment covering only sexual orientation.

Glenn v. Brumby

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.[39]

Anti–bullying laws

See also: Anti-bullying legislation § United States

Georgia law bans bullying at schools,[40] though it does not list individual protected groups.[41]

Nonetheless, DeKalb County[42] and Fulton County[43] 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 and gender identity in their Student Conduct Behavior Code.[44]

Atlanta LGBT cultural training

In September 2021, the city of Atlanta passed a city-wide ordinance that legally requires all city employees of Atlanta to undergo "LGBT cultural training".[45]

Hate crime law

Both sexual orientation and gender identity are explicitly 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 by Barack Obama - right after being passed (as an attachment to a military funding authorisation bill) by US Congress.

In June 2020, the Georgia General Assembly overwhelmingly passed (47-6 vote in the Senate and 127-38 vote in the House) a hate crimes bill that explicitly includes sexual orientation. The bill was signed into law by Governor of Georgia Brian P. Kemp on June 26, 2020.[3][46][47][48]

Gender reassignment

Georgia permits post-operative transgender people to amend their sex on their birth certificates.[49]

Transgender sports ban

In April 2022, a bill passed the Georgia General Assembly "at the last minute" to legally ban transgender individuals within female sports, athletics and/or Olympics teams. The Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp signed the bill into law and goes into effect July 1.[50][51][52]

US citizenship court case

In August 2020, a Georgia federal judge in Atlanta granted a daughter of two American married same-sex fathers US citizenship, despite being born in England to a surrogate.[53][54]

Public opinion

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.[55]

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.[56]

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.[57]

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.[58]

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.[59] The same poll also found that 65% of Georgians supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity, while 29% were opposed.[60] 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.[61]

Summary table

Right Status
Same-sex sexual activity legal
Yes
(since 1998, see Powell v. State)
Equal age of consent
Yes
[62]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment
Yes
(Since 2020, see Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services
Yes
(Since 2020)
Same-sex marriage
Yes
(since 2015)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples
Yes
[63]
Joint adoption by same-sex couples
Yes
[63]
Adoption by single people regardless of sexual orientation
Yes
[63]
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military
Yes
(since 2011, for gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, since 2021 for transgender individuals
Right to change legal gender
No
/
Yes
(requires sex reassignment surgery)
Access to IVF for lesbian couples
Yes
[19]
Conversion therapy banned by law
No
(Localities are prohibited from passing ordinances banning Conversion Therapy under the 11th Circuit Courts ruling in November)[64][65]
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples
Yes
[20]
MSMs allowed to donate blood
No
/
Yes
(Three month deferral period according to federal policy.)

See also

References

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  3. ^ a b "Georgia governor signs hate crime bill into law - JURIST - News".
  4. ^ "Election 2004 - Ballot Measures". CNN. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  5. ^ Bluestein, Greg (June 29, 2015). "Top Georgia court official: Judges 'are following the law' on gay marriages". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  6. ^ Shaikh, Ameer (October 21, 2011). "Domestic Partnership in Georgia". The Atlanta Family Law News Blog.
  7. ^ "Domestic Partnership". City of Atlanta. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Michael K. Lavers (July 24, 2013). "Atlanta suburb approves domestic partnership registry". Washington Blade.
  9. ^ "Domestic Partnership". City of Clarkston. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  10. ^ Paul, Péralte (December 17, 2013). "Decatur City Commission Approves Domestic Partnership Registry". Patch Media.
  11. ^ a b "Savannah approves domestic partner benefits". The Georgia Voice. October 15, 2010.
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  13. ^ "DeKalb County Municipal Regulations of Georgia". The State of Georgia·DeKalb County.
  14. ^ "Georgia Domestic Partnership Laws". FindLaw. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
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  17. ^ "Georgia SB368 | 2019-2020 | Regular Session". LegiScan. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  18. ^ Lou Chibbaro Jr. (March 8, 2018). "Ga. governor signs LGBT 'neutral' adoption bill". Washington Blade.
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  65. ^ "The 11th Circuit Was Right to Strike Down Bans on Conversion Therapy, but It Also Exposed a Great Hypocrisy". 23 November 2020.