Rivals for Georgia governor clash on ‘religious freedom’ law

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) | The rivals campaigning to become Georgia’s next governor clashed September 21 over whether the state needs a law offering protection for citizens acting on religious belief — an issue the outgoing Republican governor shot down amid an outcry from business leaders who joined gay rights groups in arguing it would legalize discrimination.

Democrat Stacey Abrams told an economic developers conference she opposes any form of so-called “religious freedom” law, saying the threat of employers boycotting Georgia is so real that “even the mere conversation is now toxic.”

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Hate crime bill filed prior to Georgia legislative session

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ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state lawmaker has proposed hate crime legislation, saying it’s time for the state to impose harsher penalties on people convicted of crimes motivated by hate.

Rep. Meagan Hanson, an Atlanta-area Republican, pre-filed the legislation ahead of the upcoming session of the Georgia General Assembly, which begins Monday.

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Violence against transgender people rising in Georgia and US

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(Image from Candace Towns’ Facebook.)

ATLANTA (AP) – Candace Towns was found dead in Macon between two neglected houses on Halloween. Towns, 30, was last seen on surveillance video of a gas station near the Roadway Inn where she was living. She had been shot and abandoned. A human rights group says Towns was the fourth reported transgender person killed in Georgia this year, and 25th nationwide.

Violence against transgender people is at an all-time high, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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Eight arrests at Georgia demonstration over player’s gay rights armband

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Guram Kashia

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) – Eight people were arrested in Georgia during a far-right protest to demand a soccer player be kicked off the national team because he supported gay rights.

The nationalist Georgian March group wanted defender Guram Kashia punished for wearing a rainbow armband while captaining Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem earlier this month, as part of a broader initiative in the Netherlands for the country’s “Coming Out Day.”

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Georgia Rep. Price says HIV comments taken out of context

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ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Rep. Betty Price says her comments on people with HIV that ignited a national firestorm were “taken completely out of context.”

Price, the wife of former U.S. Health Secretary Tom Price, was in a legislative committee meeting Tuesday when she asked a state health official whether people with HIV could legally be quarantined.

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Savannah’s first LGBT center opens doors with block party

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – An advocacy group in Savannah has opened the first LGBT community center in Georgia’s oldest city.

The First City Network is a nonprofit organization serving Savannah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. The group opened the doors of its new community center to the public with a block party in the evening July 13.

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What other states could be problematic for NCAA?

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Now that North Carolina has lost its NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference championship events for this year, some other states face potential challenges in the organization’s fight for discrimination-free environments.

The NCAA this week took the unprecedented step of pulling seven championship events from the state over its objection to a law that can allow discrimination against LGBT people. Two days later, the ACC did the same thing – relocating all 10 of its neutral-site championships from the state the conference has called home since its founding in 1953.

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LGBT rights group appeals denial of transgender name change

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ATLANTA (AP) – An LGBT rights group is asking an appeals court to step in after a Georgia judge declined a legal name change for a second transgender man.

Lambda Legal says it filed an appeal Sept. 8 of a June order by Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper rejecting a petition from the 21-year-old transgender man seeking to legally change his name to Andrew Baumert.

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FBI won’t pursue hate crime charges in scalding assault on gay couple

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ATLANTA (AP) – The FBI has decided not to pursue hate crime charges against a Georgia man found guilty of throwing scalding water on a sleeping gay couple.

Martin Blackwell was sentenced to 40 years in prison this week for aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

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Georgia man gets 40 years for pouring scalding water on gay couple

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ATLANTA (AP) – A judge sentenced a Georgia man to 40 years in prison Aug. 24 for throwing scalding water on a gay couple sleeping in an apartment, leaving them with severe burns that required surgery.

Jurors deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding Martin Blackwell, 48, guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault in the February attack on Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert.

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Obama’s transgender directive to schools goes to court

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas and 12 other states will ask a federal judge Aug. 12 to halt an Obama administration directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in U.S. public schools.

Here’s what you need to know:

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“Satan made gays & transgender’ sign defaced at church

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Buford, Ga. (AP) – Members of a metro Atlanta church say their sign outside proclaiming that “Satan made gays & transgender” has been covered in black paint by vandals.

Gwinnett County police Cpl. Michele Pihera said officers were called to the Back To The Bible Holiness Church in Buford after the paint was discovered June 20.

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