How State and Federal Laws Impact the LGBT+ Community

How State and Federal Laws Impact the LGBT+ Community

Putting laws in place that ban the discrimination of lesbians, gay, bisexual, and trensgender people has been an uphill battle. Some states don’t have laws to protect the LGBT+ community from discrimination, and federal protection is still lacking.

Many states have yet to put laws in place to prevent employment, housing, and other forms of discrimination. But there’s a growing number of states that are trying to pass laws to give equal access of resources to LGBT+ individuals. 

The distinction between state and federal laws highlights the challenges the LGBT+ community faces. Recognizing Georgia’s state laws will help you protect the rights of you and your family. 

Protecting LGBT+ Rights in Georgia

In 1998, Georgia struck down the sodomy laws that had previously made homosexual acts illegal. In 2003, homosexual acts became legal on a federal level. 

Although federal laws still don’t explicitly prohibit discrimination towards the LGBT+ community, many Americans are unaware that discrimination is still legal under federal law. 

Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that made same-sex marriage and its recognition unconstitutional. But in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, and Georgia began to issue and recognize same-sex marriage licenses. 

Many of Georgia’s cities and counties were already offering benefits to domestic partners that included same-sex couples. Although this gave them some of the same rights as married couples, it wasn’t a comprehensive measure. 

Health Coverage for LGBT+

The LGBT+ community needs legal protection against insurance discrimination. This allows them to receive the health insurance coverage they need and avoid exclusion from coverage for medical care based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Transgender exclusions may also be prohibited in providing health insurance. This protects the transgender community from discrimination through denial or restrictions in coverage when seeking healthcare insurance.

Parental Rights and Adoption 

The Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act was passed in 2018 by Georgia’s State Senate. It allowed state-funded adoption agencies to deny adoptions to parents based on their religious beliefs. 

But this also allowed agencies to include same-sex couples and LGBT individuals when denying adoptions. The state’s House of Representatives eventually killed the bill by never voting on it. 

In 2018, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed bill HB 159, which made it legal for same-sex couples to adopt. 

Employment Discrimination in Georgia

Under Georgia state laws, individuals are not protected against employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. 

But there are some anti-discrimination ordinances being put in place in some cities. Ordinances that prohibit discrimination in private and public work sectors are in effect in cities like Atlanta, Doraville, and Clarkston. 

In 2019, HB 426 was passed by Georgia’s House of Representatives. This is a bill against hate crimes based on a person’s race, religion, physical disability, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. 

Protecting LGBT+ individuals from discrimination and other threats must occur at state and federal levels. State laws will vary, but federal laws apply to any individual in the United States. 

Knowing your legal rights is essential to protecting you and your family’s interests. Working with a skilled attorney who understands the unique needs of the LGBT+ community is the first step in getting the resources you need.