Justice

Georgia's New Anti-Gay Law Is Backfiring Horribly

March 23rd 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

Last week, a controversial "religious freedom" bill passed the Georgia legislature, the Daily Beast reported. The bill, which many LGBT advocates and allies believe would open the door to anti-LGBT discrimination, spurred major objections on Wednesday, when a Disney spokesman announced that Disney and Marvel would relocate shooting for "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" if Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed the bill.

The law, House Bill 757, would allow faith-based organizations to hire and fire people who violate their religious beliefs, and would let venues decline rentals to groups or individuals they find "objectionable," according to the Daily Beast.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” the Disney spokesman told Variety.

LGBT advocates and allies applauded the companies on Twitter.

Disney and Marvel aren't the only ones who've objected to the bill.

Other companies including the television network AMC, along with the AMC show "The Walking Dead" followed suit and voiced their dissent to HB 757, following Disney's statement.

Over 480 businesses including Coca-Cola, Delta, Home Depot, and Apple have openly opposed the bill, according to ThinkProgress.

The National Football League also spoke out against the bill, according to the Daily Beast, and suggested that the league would be hesitant to host future Super Bowls or football championships in Atlanta if the state passed the law.

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy stated, according to the Daily Beast. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

The Atlanta Falcons plan to open a new stadium in 2017, ThinkProgress reported, and the team had hoped to host the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl. On Friday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank gave a statement that mirrored the league's stance. "I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer," Blank said, according to an ESPN report. "House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia."

Are so-called "religious freedom" bills bad for business?

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (Metro ATL Chamber) said the Georgia bill “would harm our ability to create and keep jobs that Georgia families depend upon," according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Metro ATL Chamber tweeted:

As ATTN: has previously reported, last year, "religious freedom" bills sparked major controversies in Arkansas and Indiana.

In late March 2015, companies including Salesforce, Angie's List, Apple, Subaru, and Yelp came out in opposition to a bill that would have usurped local ordinances protecting LGBT individuals against discrimination in the state of Indiana. Prominent celebrities announced that they would be canceling Indiana tour dates on Twitter:

Twitter also spoke out about the bills:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) ultimately revised the Indiana law to protect against anti-LGBT discrimination. Gov. Pence referenced the state's values as well as its business interests in a statement about the revised bill:

"Our state is rightly celebrated for our pro-business environment, and we enjoy an international reputation for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance and kindness of our people. Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan; it is our way of life. Now that this is behind us, let's move forward together with a renewed commitment to the civility and respect that make this state great."

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Star suggested that the law was revised due to pressure from corporations and backroom dealings with business tycoons. "Alterations to the law were hammered out in private over the past week between Republican legislative leaders and some of Indiana's biggest corporate power brokers, including Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle and Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Mark Miles," the Indianapolis Star reported.

Following the controversy in Indiana, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson (R) sent a similarly controversial "religious freedom" bill back to legislature, and signed a narrower version of the bill that protected religious organizations without allowing businesses to discriminate.

The Arkansas bill also saw corporate backlash. Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillan issued a statement to the governor asking him to veto it.

Though Gov. Deal is a Republican and identifies as a Baptist, his past comments to reporters suggest a more tolerant attitude than some of his fellow lawmakers, CNN reported. "We do not have a belief, in my way of looking at religion, that says that we have to discriminate against anybody," Deal said, according to CNN.

"I think what the New Testament teaches us, is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered outcasts," the governor elaborated, CNN reported, implying that Georgia law need not treat LGBT individuals differently than heterosexual individuals or couples.

[H/T Upworthy]