As one of the most southern states, few gay or lesbian people think about moving to Georgia. But while the state’s reputation may be deserved in some parts, others are much more accepting. Atlanta, for example, is home to a fair number of LGBT people. Georgia is worth considering. Let’s take a look at the state’s history with LGBT laws.
The state was actually fairly late in removing its sodomy laws. They were still on the books until 1998, when the case of Powell v. Georgia made both same-sex and opposite-sex consensual sodomy legal. This was just five years before Lawrence v Texas, which struck down all laws that made homosexual acts illegal.
Georgia also didn’t blaze any trails in the area of same-sex marriage—it took the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges to make it legal. However, unlike some of the other southern states, the Attorney General of Georgia made it clear that they would follow the ruling and not try to fight it or deny anyone a marriage license. County clerks began issuing marriage licenses immediately.
Prior to this decision, same-sex marriage had been prohibited by the 2004 constitutional amendment. Some of the more liberal cities such as Atlanta had instituted domestic partnership registries for their city employees, however.
Georgia has no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the area of employment, although some counties and cities have passed ordinances protecting government employees. Atlanta has gone one step further and protects all employees from discrimination based on orientation and gender identity.
However, in 2011, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals did rule that firing someone due to their nonconformity to standard gender roles was unconstitutional. This legal precedent may be used in future cases.
The state has no hate crime laws for LGBT citizens. However, those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery may legally amend their birth certificates.
With this lack of protection, you may think that everyone is Georgia is very close minded. However, that’s not true. According to a poll taken in 2013, 48 percent of all citizens of the state are for same-sex marriage, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s higher than many might think. Only 43 percent believed it should be illegal, while the remaining 9 percent were not certain. This is up from a 2012 poll that found only 27 percent of Georgians supported same-sex marriage.