Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series called “Campaign Breakthroughs.” Campaign Breakthroughs will highlight races that are breaking glass ceilings or shine the spotlight on the campaign worlds ground breaking achievements.
The state of equality in America is at a crossroads. Seemingly every week another state welcomes same-sex marriage; LGBT voices are more visible and
involved than ever, in both politics and public life. Despite phenomenal gains, 2014 was a year that witnessed the revival of “religious freedom” bills. This legislation provides employers and business owners with unchecked opportunities to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and give no recourse to LGBT individuals hoping to legally exercise their rights. While the most prominent iteration of these bills was shot down after public outrage in Arizona, similar versions have been considered in a number of states.
The fact that harmful measures like these can possibly be snuck into law underscores how badly we need people like Kyle Williams in state legislatures. Williams is running to become the next state senator for District 42 in Georgia, one of the states that saw the reintroduction of an amendment sanctifying anti-LGBT bias in the state house earlier this spring.
As a decade-long resident, community leader and former Chair of Georgia Equality, Williams public service would be an invaluable asset to the LGBT community – and anyone else concerned with protecting and promoting civil rights. In addition to owning his own small local law firm, Williams serves as Chair of the Decatur Education Foundation, which provides funding for student and teacher scholarships and administers grants to help close the equality gaps facing schools.
The commitment of allied lawmakers to equality is indispensable. However, disenfranchising laws cannot be stopped without authentic LGBT voices in government who are always on the defensive against efforts to scale back progress. This urgent need can be felt in the lack of state laws that affirm LGBT equality: Georgia does not protect against employee discrimination based on sexual orientation, does not recognize the validity of same-sex unions and does not protect state employees based on their gender identity.
Substantive statewide LGBT protections are rarely accomplished without the participation of out elected officials. In places such as Georgia, with several discriminatory hurdles to overcome before full equality can even be broached, the efficacy of advocates like Williams would go a long way.
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