Gov. Nathan Deal is under great pressure from Hollywood leaders, Fortune 500 companies and major sports organizations to veto a "religious liberty" bill recently passed by Georgia lawmakers. The legislation would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to those who violate their "sincerely held religious belief" and give them the right to fire employees who aren't in accord with those beliefs.
Deal, who touts a strong pro-business record, has until May 3 to make a decision on the Free Exercise Protection Act (HB 757) and plans to consider the bill next month. Critics of the legislation claim it will legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals.
Dozens of companies and individuals in entertainment, business and sports are speaking out against the Georgia legislation. The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and more in the entertainment industry have issued statements of opposition and threatened to move their productions out of state if the bill passes. The Human Rights Campaign sent a letter on behalf of dozens of Hollywood leaders like Lee Daniels, Anne Hathaway, Seth MacFarlane, Harvey Weinstein and many more who also plan to abandon their projects in Georgia if Deal signs the act.
"We applaud the dozens of leaders from the entertainment industry who are taking a stand today against discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry,"HRC President Chad Griffin said. "The entertainment industry has a huge economic footprint in Georgia, and the choice for Governor Deal could not be any clearer: he must veto this outrageous legislation before it inflicts tremendous damage on the state. This outrageous and discriminatory legislation is an affront to the values we all share."
More than 400 businesses located in the state have added their name to the Georgia Prospers pledge, which argues Georgia "must have workplaces and communities that are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one's race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Some of the major companies with headquarters in the state and have signed the pledge include Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Cox Enterprises and Delta Airlines.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has also threatened to pull Atlanta's bid to host the Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020. The 2018 National College Football Championship and the 2020 Final Four basketball tournament are already scheduled to take place in Atlanta, but those future events could be in doubt if the bill passes. The MLB's Atlanta Braves, NFL's Atlanta Falcons and NBA's Atlanta Hawks have also issued statements condemning the legislation.
See below for a comprehensive list of companies urging Deal to veto the "religious liberty" bill.
- Georgia Prospers pledge
- The Walt Disney Company (Marvel Entertainment)
- Viacom (Paramount, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike, VH1 and MTV)
- Time Warner (HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner)
- 21st Century Fox
- Atlanta Braves
- Atlanta Falcons
- Atlanta Hawks