ATLANTA — Five isn’t a very big number. It sounds even smaller when it’s compared to Five-hundred and thirty-five. I’m not much of a gambler but if I were, I’d have to say that I wouldn’t be too crazy about those kinds of odds. Now, that’s just the math, here’s the context. The number five-hundred and thirty-five refers to the number of municipalities that exist in the state of Georgia. Now, subtract five and that leaves us with five-hundred and thirty. Still a large number to be sure but we’ll get back to that equation in a minute.
As of July 2019, only five cities in the Peach State have passed some kind of non-discrimination ordinance or NDO. Doraville, Clarkston, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Atlanta are those five cities/municipalities. NDOs protect against discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. As well as discrimination in prison, jails and detention centers. The reality of Georgia lacking an NDO on a state level means people would have to go to the federal level to challenge any form of discrimination.
“Discrimination rears its ugly head in the least expected places,” laments Brian Mock, a councilmember for the city of Chamblee. “Georgia does not have a fair amount of protection for a lot of classes and that is especially true for the LGBTQ community.”
As July 2019, Georgia is among 30 other states that do NOT possess any kind of anti-discriminations laws or ‘hate-crime’ legislature on a state level. Legally, that translates into zero protections for a private citizen from any form of discrimination at the state level. The only recourse after that being the Supreme Court of the United States.
Andrea Cervone, a councilmember for city of Clarkston, told 11Alive, “The great thing about local NDOs is the fact that they can make it a regional effort, providing a pocket of protection; but they can also take it a step further to tailor it to the needs of a particular community.”
Local cities in Georgia took the initiative to ask how they could exercise local control to foster space spaces for people, and their answer was to pass NDOs.
Now here’s the kicker. That means in five-hundred and thirty towns, townships, cities, ‘villes’ or ‘burgs’, any one of us could be fired, rejected or discriminated just because someone disagreed or disliked your race, gender, sexual identity or country of origin.
The councilmember for the city of Doraville, Stephe Koontz, said she was told by a lot of city attorneys that they believed that it was illegal, and local councilmembers did not have the authority to be passing ordinances like this.
Pam Tallmadge, councilmember for the city of Dunwoody said, “We want to make sure our citizens feel safe to buy a home… rent a home; to live work, play and feel a part of our community because we have everyone here.”
Local council members said they will keep pushing until an NDO is passed on a state level. How do feel about the number five now? For more information visit each city's website and learn about the impact of non-discrimination ordinances.