Some 80 activists gathered in Atlanta on Monday to discuss their strategy to fight the religious exemption laws making their way through the Georgia legislature.
Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, says if the bills pass, they will encourage bigotry.
But Cohen says the problem is bigger than the laws themselves, telling the group, “The danger extends to the atmosphere that they will create, to the discrimination, legal or not, that these laws will encourage.”
Atlanta’s LGBT Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund of Washington, D.C., hosted the event.
There are currently more than a half-dozen religious freedom or religious exemption bills pending in the Georgia General Assembly. The measures seek, each in different ways, to allow people to assert that their exercise of religion has been, or is likely to be, substantially burdened by participating in certain activities.
Many in the LGBT community assert the bills open the door to discrimination, and the business community says such measures send the wrong message to potential customers and employees.