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Georgia Log Cabin Republican's Open Letter to Gov. Kemp [R] Supporting 1st Amendment Rights on Campus

January 27, 2021 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

Dear Governor Kemp:

The Georgia Log Cabin Republicans encourage you to support House Bill 1, the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act.

This bill aims to protect the First Amendment rights of Georgia's public university students by eliminating "free speech zones," prohibiting restrictive speech codes, protecting student organizations' rights of association, and ensuring universities do not discriminate against groups because of their protected, lawful expression. Furthermore, this monumental piece of legislation will alleviate the burden of costly litigation in which universities engage as a result of the intentional and unintentional infringement upon the First Amendment rights of students.

As one of the largest and most recognized chapters of the nation's premiere political group focused on fairness, freedom, and equality among LGBT Americans, the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans (GA LCR) recognize and sympathize with the concerns of those who believe that the provisions of this bill might be used to dissipate the acceptance of LGBT students on Georgia's university and college campuses. However, as an organization with 43+ years of experience in educating both legislators and the general public on the impact of public policy on the LGBT community, we stand firmly with the tenant of the First Amendment that allows for Americans of all ages to assemble and associate with whomever they choose.

GA LCRs believe that any insinuation or assertion that this bill will lead to rampant discriminatory practices or harassment are nothing more than partisan ploys and scare tactics used to sway public opinion and deter elected officials from supporting this historic measure. Over a dozen states already protect association rights, like those proposed by H.B. 1, and to our knowledge, these laws have not had a negative impact on LGBT students.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge that this bill does not create or deliver additional liberties, but solidifies into Georgia law what the United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed for decades:

"The precedents of this Court leave no room for the view that... First Amendment protections should apply with less force on college campuses than in the community at large... The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools." (Healy v. James, U.S. 169 at 180 (1972))
We implore you to support this principled piece of legislation and urge lawmakers to join you in defending one of our nation's most fundamental freedoms - the right to think and speak freely and engage in public dialogue.



Sincerely,

Coleman E. Williamson, President
Georgia Log Cabin Republicans