‘Walking Dead’ Filming May Leave Georgia If Anti-LGBT Law Passes

In The Walking Dead, Rick’s group may be making a stand against Negan in a fight for survival, but The Walking Dead may be making a greater stand in real life, standing up for LGBT rights. With Georgia on the brink of passing anti-LGBT legislation dubbed the “religious liberty” bill, several large movie studios and Walt Disney Company have already threatened to pull their business from Georgia, and AMC is on board with the looming boycott, as well. That means The Walking Dead, which currently films around several locations in Georgia, may be making a move if the bill passes on May 3.

Think Progress reports that House Bill 757 would allow individuals to refuse to perform or attend same-sex weddings and allow faith-based groups including churches and religious schools to refuse to hire or service anyone who violates their group’s religious beliefs or as its phrase specifically in the bill, anyone “whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.”

To put it more succinctly, it allows pretty much anyone who claims it’s against their religion and/or the religion of their business to discriminate against anyone who is gay. And in case you didn’t notice, no one is forced to attend any wedding ceremony even without this bill.

tara and denise the walking dead
The ill-fated romance of Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Denise (Merritt Wever) on The Walking Dead. [Photo by Gene Page/AMC]

Representatives of AMC, which airs The Walking Dead, weren’t quite as specific in laying out the consequences if the bill should pass as some companies, notably Netflix and The Weinstein Company, but had harsh words about the intent of the legislation.

“AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.”

The Walking Dead has broken ground by including several gay characters in the show, including Tara (Alanna Masterson) who has lost two girlfriends now at the hands of humans, not walkers. Her most recent loss was Denise (Merritt Wever) just last week with an arrow through the eye. There’s also Aaron (Ross Marquand) and his partner Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) who had a rather memorable dinner with chopper-riding, redneck, tough guy Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus.)

And before any of you Walking Dead fans go there, there has been no indication that Daryl is gay on the series, despite the never-ending rumors to the contrary. Just because he hasn’t hooked up with anyone of either gender doesn’t make a man gay. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, as Reedus himself has said he isn’t afraid to be gay, but let’s put that rumor to rest unless Daryl kisses another guy.

The other creative power houses threatening to leave Georgia besides AMC and The Walking Dead include Marvel Studios, Sony, CBS, Time Warner, Netflix, Lionsgate, 21st-century Fox, Starz, Viacom, and The Weinstein Company. While some of the companies threatening action made more vague statements or threats about the repercussions, others made it very clear how they would respond if House Bill 757 passes. Netflix threatened to pull upcoming series that have been slated for Georgia in the coming months, and The Weinstein Company didn’t mince words as to the consequences of passing the legislation.

“The Weinstein Co. will not stand behind sanctioning the discrimination of‎ LGBT people or any American. We have plans in place to begin filming Lee Daniels’ new film in Georgia later this year but will move the production if this unlawful bill is enacted. We hope Governor Deal will veto bill H.B. 757 and not allow sanctioned bigotry to become law in Georgia.”

Feeling the heat on the set of The Walking Dead. [Photo by Gene Page/AMC]

The Walking Dead‘s story centers around a group of survivors originally from Atlanta, and the television series has been filming in Georgia since the beginning. While many of the actors in the series have permanent homes in Georgia because they spend so much time there, the cast of The Walking Dead probably wouldn’t miss the extreme heat and humidity of Georgia summers they currently have to deal with while filming.

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9 p.m. ET.

[Photo by Gene Page/AMC]