Category Archives: Money

Coalition of 400 companies fight Georgia’s proposed ‘religious liberty’ bill

The movement against the religious privilege bill, HB 757, is gathering steam in the business community through a coalition called Georgia Prospers. From The Guardian:

A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing a Georgia “religious liberty” bill that is rapidly heading toward passage, with at least one major company already leaving the state over the proposal.

The proposed law would allow both individuals and organizations to refuse to conduct business with or otherwise discriminate against anyone whose marriage they find counters their religious beliefs. It also protects individuals from existing nondiscrimination laws in Atlanta and elsewhere.

A similar bill was dismissed last year, but the speed at which this year’s version, the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), is moving has raised serious concerns among state lawmakers, business owners, the faith community and activists.

The bill passed both the House and, in a different form, the Senate this month. The most recent version bars the government from taking “adverse action” against a person or faith-based organization that “believes, speaks, or acts in accordance” with the religious belief that “marriage should only be between a man and a woman”.

[..]

Just in the last week, roughly 100 businesses have joined a coalition of what is now over 400 companies opposing the religious freedom bill. The group Georgia Prospers, of which Moore is a member, includes a range of businesses – from Fortune 500 companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot to smaller ones across the state – in support of “treating all Georgians and visitors fairly”.

Several have cited fears that Georgia will suffer lost revenue, as in Indiana where public disdain for a similar bill, before it even became law, is said to have cost the state $60m. Atlanta’s chamber of commerce and visitors’ bureau produced separate studies citing a potential loss of $1bn to $2bn if the bill passes without civil rights protections.

So the religious privilege bill, which State Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus (who crafted the RFRA bill which went down in flames last year and has not seen daylight this year) has been busy defending on Twitter and Facebook, is now becoming a fight between religiously-privileged politicians and the large businesses which Republicans in Georgia have gone through hell and high water to recruit over the last two decades, as evidenced by the ongoing social media fight between McKoon and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. According to SaportaReport.com, the Georgia Prospers initiative, which formed in early January, is being led by former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance.

For local interest, Synovus Financial Inc., which is among the 32 largest employers in Columbus, is among the companies which signed the Georgia Prospers pledge, as are other companies based or branched in Columbus, including:

  • Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau,
  • The Coca Cola Company,
  • Columbus Regional Health,
  • NCR Corporation,
  • Wells-Fargo,
  • Marriott

Of course, the largest private-sector employers in Columbus with employee forces of over 1,000, are not yet listed as supporters of the pledge, including AFLAC, TSYS, Kia Motors, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia and Pratt & Whitney.

If you’re employed at any one of these businesses here in Columbus, please politely ask them to sign this pledge. Your state will thank you.

Jenner Wood, 2016 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, supports Georgia Prospers in the following video:

via Coalition of 400 companies fight Georgia’s proposed ‘religious liberty’ bill | US news | The Guardian.

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RECAP: MassMutual at CV Pride Center

IMG_20150416_185704Last night, agents from MassMutual gave a presentation at CV Pride Center on financial protection for oneself and loved ones. To a crowd of eleven people for two hours, Shavon Roman from MassMutual’s office in Atlanta spoke passionately on such issues as marriage and relationship protection in the midst of anti-marriage bans such as Georgia’s, the need to draw up a will, retirement needs, and protection of preferred inheritance away from anti-LGBT relatives. Ms. Roman has spoken in front of several LGBT-affirmative organizations such as Atlanta Pride on similar issues.

Ms. Roman was joined by fellow MassMutual agent Colin T. Martin, who is based in Columbus and offered his input on the logistics of financial protection for single parents, same-sex couples, and unmarried relationships.

Free food, including pork sandwiches, chips and drinks, were offered to attendees courtesy of the Center.

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EVENT: April 10th – Free Dinner with MassMutual at CV Pride Center

From Tracy Prudhomme at MassMutual:

11121312_1012751278752772_8530260850468379338_oAt MassMutual, we understand the unique financial needs of the LGBT community and can help you build financial strategies to ensure your loved ones are protected. For more than 160 years, MassMutual has helped policyholders on their quest for financial freedom.

To learn how we can help protect your loved ones’ financial future, join us for an educational seminar.

Date: April 16th, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
CVPride Community Center
1132 13th Street, Columbus, GA 31901
Barbecue dinner included
RSVP to Tracy Prudhomme: 706-256-0800 or tprudhomme@financialguide.com

U.S. Department of Labor’s Contractor Protections for LGBT Workers Goes Into Effect

LaborLogoFrom U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez:

Today, President Obama’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination goes into effect. It prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom they love.

As I said when the executive order was announced, this is a civil rights victory consistent with our founding principles. It will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people. It advances the principle that we should be leaving no one on the sidelines, that America is strongest when it fields a full team.

Each year, federal contractors and subcontractors receive billions of taxpayer dollars to supply goods, provide services and perform construction work for government agencies. In return, they are held to a reasonable standard that they may not discriminate in hiring, firing, pay, promotion and other employment practices. Until today, it was discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability and status as a protected veteran that was prohibited. Now, in the first expansion since 1974, LGBT Americans enjoy these same protections.

Full Announcement: via Another Step Toward Equality for LGBT Workers : U.S. Department of Labor Blog.

Ga. Department of Revenue issues guidelines for same-sex couples filing state tax returns

Dyana Bagby from The GA Voice reports from Georgia Equality in Atlanta: Ga. Department of Revenue issues guidelines for same-sex couples filing state tax returns.

Essentially, in the wake of Windsor v. United States, Georgia will join a number of other states (all of which maintain constitutional bans on same-sex marriage) in compelling same-sex couples who have been legally married out of state to continue to file separate state tax returns. These include Kansas, Michigan, Utah and North Dakota.