Panel on Religious Freedom

I hope this message finds you well. I am DeMarcus Beckham a student leader at Middle Georgia State University and the President of the University’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Our Alliance here at Middle Georgia State University is partnering with Mercer University’s Common Ground, Wesleyan College’s the Council on Religious Unity and GLBAL and Georgia Equality to host a public forum to discuss discrimination, misleading religious freedom legislation in Georgia, and its possible impact on civil rights. We are ultimately calling on all people in our community to stand for what is right and fight against discrimination.

This Panel on Religious Freedom is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at High Street Unitarian Universalist Church, 1085 High Street in Macon. This event is free and open to the public.

Purpose: To educate a diverse community of people, with the help of state civil right organizations and scholarly professionals, about the threat of state-sanctioned religious freedom legislation, while promoting state comprehensive civil rights.

This panel event welcomes a community of people with backgrounds in the LGBT+ community, those who fall across the racial minority and religious minority spectrum, and our allies. In our current political and social climate fear and misinformation has run rampant. Many have called for the segregation of religious minorities and/or eliminating them, some are calling for the removal of groups of people who work hard and are seeking citizenship, and there are those who are seeking to reduce and repeal marriage rights for many Americans that have worked toward equality.

Here in the state of Georgia there is no comprehensive antidiscrimination law. There are laws that protect against discrimination based on religion, gender, disabilities, etc, but there are no state laws that protect LGBT+ individuals from being discriminated against in the public or private sector. There are patchwork laws that address how employers are not to discriminate against who they plan to hire, there is the Age Discrimination Act, Equal Employment for Persons with Disabilities Code, Equal Pay Act, and there are few counties in Georgia that have passed anti-LGBT+ discrimination laws. We need more state laws to protect all Georgians, no matter what community you live in.There are 23 states that already have comprehensive antidiscrimination laws and they work.

The local LGBT+ groups from Middle Georgia State University, Mercer University, Wesleyan College, as well as Georgia Equality want to offer the local community the opportunity to inform themselves about state-sanctioned religious freedom legislation that does not benefitGeorgians and in fact could have severe detrimental impact on our people and our economy. This panel will scrutinize this legislation through political, philosophical and legal avenues and talk about the push for the comprehensive civil rights for all Georgians.

Panelists scheduled to take part include:

Andrew Manis, History Professor at Middle Georgia State

Karen Bray, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Wesleyan

Gary J. Simson, a Senior Vice Provost at Mercer

Amanda Hill-Attkisson, Deputy Director of Georgia Equality

We welcome all from the community and their congregations to attend this event. We ask you as people of this community to stand against critical legislation that will affect people of all races, faiths, and genders. There is no room for hate but there is room for acceptance.

Thank you,

DeMarcus Beckham

For more information please reach me at demarcus.beckham@mga.edu or 678-572-2486