Georgia is set to pass a controversial law, described by supporters as a religious freedom law but described by opponents as being anti-gay, that, if passed, will likely cost The Peach State some business, and possibly a chance at hosting a Super Bowl.
As CBS Sports reports, the controversial House Bill 757 needs only the signature of Governor Nathan Deal to become law. As of this writing, Deal has not signed the so-called “anti-gay bill,” and it remains to be seen whether or not he will.
If passed, HB 757 would allow clergy to refuse to provide same-sex weddings. Similarly, it would allow faith-based organizations, such as churches and certain charities, to refuse to hire — or fire those who are already employed — individuals whose “religious beliefs or practices… are not in accord with the faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.”
— Brigid McKenna (@Brigid_Mckenna) March 19, 2016
The bill has garnered fierce opposition not only from Georgia’s LGBTQ community, but also from human rights activists, according to Jeff Graham of Georgia Equality.
“Conservatives, legal experts, people of faith, businesses and more than 75,000 Georgians expressed their strong opposition to legislation which threatens our state’s economy and reputation, and which very clearly singles out LGBT people and others for harm.”
The controversial bill has already caused at least one Georgia business owner to pull up stakes and move elsewhere, according to WECT (Wilmington, North Carolina).
Kelvin Williams, founder of 373K, said he is moving his telecommunications company out of Georgia.
“We are gone yes, we’ve already incorporated. We just got our articles of incorporation in Delaware.”
Williams said he is not the only one. Without naming names, the businessman said the he knew of other businesses that were in the process of leaving Georgia due to the bill.
It’s not just Georgia’s business community that is standing in opposition to the bill: Georgia’s thriving sports industry is calling on Deal to veto the law, as well. Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves have called the bill “detrimental” and “bad for Georgia.” Similarly, officials with the Atlanta Hawks (NHL), Atlanta Falcons (NFL), and Atlanta Dream (WNBA) have all publicly stated that they oppose the bill.
But it’s not just Georgia’s professional sports teams themselves that are publicly coming out against the controversial bill. The National Football League (NFL) told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that passage of the bill may jeopardize Atlanta’s chances 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. 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.”
That news does not bode well for Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The businessman is set to open a brand new, $1.4 billion stadium in 2017 — a stadium he hopes will host the Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020.
— Reggie Edwards (@Reggie921) March 3, 2016
“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. House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”
This would not be the first time Atlanta lost the chance to host a Super Bowl due to controversial Georgia legislation: the NFL declined to give the city a Super Bowl hosting bid following the 1992 season due to the Peach State not having a law honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Do you believe Georgia businesses are right to pull out of the state because of controversial “anti-gay” legislation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/Bruce Stanfield]