Coca-Cola Co. among 60 corporations backing federal ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation

By David Pendered

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. is among 60 major corporations that have the launched the Business Coalition for Equity Act, which is to promote passage of civil rights legislation that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Coca-Cola Co.

The Coca-Cola Co. is among 60 major corporations supporting federal legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Credit: megaconstrucciones.net

The 60 corporations employ 4.2 million people in the United States, have a combined $1.9 trillion in revenues, have operations in all 50 states, and have headquarters in 22 states, according to a statement HRC released March 10.

“These business leaders are showing true leadership and fighting to end a shameful status quo that leaves LGBT people at risk in a majority of states for being denied services or fired because of who they are or who they love,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in the statement.

The list of companies includes PepsiCo Inc., Monsanto Co., General Mills, The Hershey Co., American Airlines, Target Corp., Apple Inc., Microsoft, and Hilton Worldwide Inc. and Hyatt Hotels. The full list is available on a page on HRC’s website.

“We’re proud of all these corporate leaders stepping forward to say that all Americans, including LGBT people, should be able to live free from fear of discrimination and have a fair chance to earn a living,” Griffin said.

HRC says it is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization in the country. HRC has been active in Georgia in the debate over the proposed religious liberty bill.

Identical measures were introduced in the House and Senate, according to congress.gov.

According to a summary of the resolution, it:

  • “Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation.”

The resolution would expand the definition of public accommodations to include:

  • “Exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays;
  • “Goods, services, or programs, including a store, a shopping center, an online retailer or service provider, a salon, a bank, a gas station, a food bank, a service or care center, a shelter, a travel agency, a funeral parlor, or a health care, accounting, or legal service;
  • “Or transportation services.”

The House resolution was filed July 23, 2015 by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline. It has 174 co-sponsors – 173 Democrats, and one Republican from a district north of Chicago who signed on Jan. 25.

Two of Georgia’s congressional delegation signed on as co-sponsors of the bill – Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia).

The Senate measure was introduced the same day by Oregon Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley. Its list of co-signers includes 37 Democrats, two Independents, and one Republican – Illinois Sen. Mark Steven Kirk. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders did sign as a co-sponsor.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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