Sir Elton John disagrees with a bill in Georgia that would allow individuals and businesses to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against certain groups of people, including gay residents.
The English pop star, a champion for LGBT social movements worldwide, wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution this week to express his unhappiness about the Peach State's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act." The measure passed the state Senate last week, and currently remains in the Georgia House.
John, who has been openly gay since 1988, has lived in Atlanta for 25 years. There, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation to fight what he called the misunderstanding and prejudice at the heart of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He also wanted to provide support and dignity, he wrote, to the individuals battling the disease.
On Friday, he expressed his fear that the new law will create similar discrimination his friend, who lives with HIV, experienced from medical professionals.
"What SB 129 will really do is institutionalize the hate some people hold in their hearts against other people. It will turn back the clock on the progress we have made — not only in the fight against HIV, but also in the struggle for a more equal and just society," he wrote about the legislation.
"To be clear, I firmly believe in freedom of religion. Everyone has the right to worship as they choose," he added. "But I also believe in justice, equality and the rule of law. We can’t just let people refuse to follow a law because they don’t like it. And we can’t just grant special exemptions that allow people to discriminate at will."
John entered a civil partnership with filmmaker David Furnish in December 2005. The longtime couple wed last December after gay marriage became legal in England. They invited the world to share in their love and excitement by using the hashtag "#ShareTheLove" on social media.
Now, he urges people to join him in opposing the Georgia bill by using the hashtag "#KeepGAOpen."
Irish film actor Colin Farrell recently wrote an op-ed in support of same-sex marriage in his native country, describing discriminatory situations his gay brother encountered.
Eighteen countries have approved the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In the United States, support for marriage equality has grown steadily since 2000, when Americans opposed gay marriage by a 57% to 35% margin.