The bill gives religious organizations the right to discriminate.
Photo via (cc) Flicker user Ken Lund
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage a protected right throughout the United States, but the battle for LGBT equality didn’t end there. As GOOD reported earlier this month, only 22 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect gay people from discrimination, and only 18 ensure the rights of transgender people. Now, the state of Georgia is about to pass an anti-LGBT law, and the only people who can stop it are the state’s business community.
H.B. 757, known as the Pastor Protection Act, gives faith-based organizations the right to fire people who violate the group’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It also gives faith-based organizations—many of whom enjoy tax-exempt status—the right to refuse to rent facilities for events they find “objectionable” and gives clergy the right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings.
While the bill awaits the governor’s signature, two major entertainment companies that do business in Georgia have stood up against it. Disney, which is currently filiming Guardians of the Galaxy 2 near Atlanta because of its favorable tax laws, recently released a statement against the bill. “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,” a Disney spokesperson said.
The NFL is also watching the situation closely. The organization, whose commissioner, Roger Goodell, has a gay brother, released a statement saying that if the bill is passed it could hurt the state’s chance of hosting a Super Bowl. “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 said. “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.” If the NFL rejects Georgia based on H.B. 757, it could lead other other major sporting events in the state, such as the 2018 National College Football Championships and the 2020 Final Four basketball tournament, to reconsider their ties to Georgia.
Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Richard Branson, and Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff have all spoken out against the law as well. The actions taken by these businesses to stand up against discrimination are commendable because they empower vulnerable groups when government fails to act.
(H/T The Daily Beast)