FADA Drives Telecom Company Out Of Georgia

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), a recent anti-LGBT bill, passed the Georgia state senate by a vote of 38-14, according to the New Civil Rights Movement. FADA, also known as HB 757, is intended to protect those who for reasons of religious belief and conscience, might be forced to act in a way that made it appear they approved of what they consider immoral activities. Opponents of FADA claim it would legalize anti-LGBT discrimination. As a result, Decatur-based telecom company 373K has announced that if the governor signs FADA into law, they will relocate, as reported by Raw Story.

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State Senator Greg Kirk, one of the leading supporters of FADA, says it is not an anti-LGBT bill. In addition to being a state legislator, he is a Baptist minister. In his opinion, FADA will protect the First Amendment rights of people who support “traditional marriage” by not requiring them to support same-sex marriage.

“It only impacts the government’s interaction with faith-based organizations or a person who holds faith-based, sincerely held beliefs as it relates to marriage.”

According to the website Protect thy Neighbor, FADA “allows any individual or ‘faith-based’ business, non-profit entity, or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage.” Protect thy Neighbor fears that FADA is unconstitutional, violating both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

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Kirk insists FADA won’t affect businesses. He says it’s a matter of live and let live.

“It’s directed towards churches, towards ministers, and towards organizations that provide adoptions and organizations that provide help to the homeless, and so forth.”

His colleague, State Senator Emanuel Jones, disagrees about FADA. The New Civil Rights Movement explained how Jones called FADA dangerous, and worried that that it could be used not only to discriminate against LGBT citizens of Georgia, but to protect the Ku Klux Klan. When this interpretation of FADA was pointed out to him, Kirk agreed it was not impossible, but said it “didn’t present a problem” for him.

Maggie Garrett, the Legislative Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, wrote an open letter to the state senate. The Legal Reader quoted Garrett as she pointed out many people could be affected by FADA: interracial families, LGBT couples, people in mixed marriages, Muslims, Jews.

“Just a few of the troubling real life consequences could include: a single mother and her child being denied safety at the domestic violence shelter; a hospital denying a man the opportunity to say goodbye to his dying husband; a cemetery corporation denying an interracial couple a shared cemetery plot; a restaurant refusing to allow a child’s birthday party because his parents are divorced; or an unmarried couple and their child being denied a room at a hotel late at night after their car broke down.”

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Kelvin Williams, the co-founder of telecom company 373K, announced that his company would be leaving Georgia if Governor Nathan Deal signs FADA into law. The Advocate reported that Williams urged Coca-Cola and other Georgian businesses to denounce FADA. Williams quoted the Georgia Prospers Business Coalition Pledge.

“We believe that in order for Georgia businesses to compete for top talent, we 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.”

How will FADA affect Georgia’s economy?

[Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images]