Georgia 'House Of Mercy' Homeless Shelter Refuses To Serve Gay And Lesbian People

Last week, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released its annual report, “State Of Homelessness In America,” that sought to document the problems afflicting our nation’s homeless population. One of the major findings of the report was that during the economic recession the “number of homeless people increased 3 percent, or by about 20,000 people, and the number of homeless families increased 4 percent.” With state and municipal budgets continuing to be squeezed the poor economy, much of the duty of caring for these people has fallen to private charities.

Yet as’s Michael A. Jones reports, one of these private charities, Columbus, Georgia’s ironically named House of Mercy, is practicing discrimination by refusing to serve gay and lesbian homeless people.

Earlier this month, two women checked into House of Mercy along with their children. Soon, the operators of the facility began to suspect that the two women were lesbians, and promptly kicked them out. Both women told the local news that they weren’t even gay, and one of them said she came from an abusive home. Elder Bobby Harris, the director of the organization, told the local press that he would welcome “non-practicing gay people,” but even if the residents were to engage in sexual behavior on their own time off the premises, they would be rejected.

Local news station WRBL-3 interviewed one of the women who was kicked out of House of Mercy. She spoke under the condition of anomynity, as she continues to fear for her safety having fled an abusive relationship. Watch it: is a running petition site where you can write to Harris and protest House of Mercy’s discriminatory policy. Access it here. For now, lesbian women in the area can seek help at the Crisis Center of Russell County. “We welcome anyone that is a victim,” says Valerie McLain, a spokeswoman for the organization. “We make no discrimination with anyone. We’re not in the business of revictimizing the victim.”

Think Progress / By Zaid Jilani | Sourced from

Posted at January 18, 2011, 10:07am

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