Over the last few weeks, multiple film studios, civil-rights groups and global companies have threatened to boycott any and all production in Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal signed a ‘religious liberty’ bill into law.
Bowing to the pressure, Georgia’s Republican governor has decided to veto the bill, which was backed by social conservatives and the GOP of the state.
Gay rights groups and American corporations have called the bill discriminatory in the past, and despite it passing through previous legislative branches, the bill will not become a law.
“Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal stated at a Monday morning press conference. “We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.”
Deal added, “My actions today in no way disparage the motivations of those who support this bill. Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it will allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate on something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment of the United State Constitution.”
The bill was part of growing legislation that would have allowed faith-based organizations to deny their services to anyone that would betray their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Not only could they refuse service to certain individuals and groups, the law would allow companies to fire employees that didn’t share in the company’s belief system.
One of the problems our country faces is defining “faith-based organizations,” as any company or privately owned business could adopt the title just to enforce its religious beliefs onto its employees.
In the past, many Christian groups have stepped forward wishing to pass the law. Many companies like Wedding planners, or cake makers could refuse service to single-sex marriages if the law was enforced, but the law would also allow any religious group to deny service to anyone that opposed their beliefs.
This bill would give companies the power to enforce religious compliance to obtain services, which many believe is not the same as the freedom to practice your religion.
This bill is also very open-ended, which means groups like Catholics could refuse service to anyone that is divorced, because Catholics look at divorce as a sin if the marriage was not annulled.
So planning a second wedding, or participating in a wedding, or participating in a birth outside of marriage, could be considered against their “sincerely held religious beliefs” and the company would be allowed to refuse to serve them in any way. Catholics in a “faith based organization” would also be allowed to fire an individual if they were divorced, or getting divorced, if this bill was signed into law.
The bill flew through the statehouse, but the pressure from studios and companies that work in Georgia proved to be a strong enough force to pursue Deal from signing the bill into law.
The pressure came from some serious players in the global market. Disney and Marvel, which film numerous projects in Georgia including the latest “Captain America: Civil War” movie, were among the first to threaten the boycott.
Disney pumps millions of dollars into the Georgian economy each year with its films and projects, after being lured to the state by tax-incentives approved by the legislators. AMC, which films “The Walking Dead” in Georgia, was also quick to threaten a pullout if the bill was signed.
Later in the week Apple, Intel, Time Warner, Hilton and Marriott, the National Football League and Tyler Perry also joined the proposed boycott. The NFL warned Georgia that it would pull Atlanta’s bid to host the 2019 Super Bowl if the bill became a law.