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Facing Business Boycott, Georgia Governor Says He’ll Veto Discriminatory Anti-LGBTQ Bill

Georgia' s governor announced he would veto an anti-LGBTQ bill on Monday, March 28.

CREDIT: Flickr user Brendan Lim.

Disney and its subsidiary, Marvel Entertainment, recently threatened to boycott film production in Georgia if a discriminatory religious liberty bill became law.

The bill, HB 757, would have made it illegal to force clergy to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies, gave everyone the legal right to “attend or not attend” any wedding, and allowed faith-based organizations, like Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, to deny services to LGBT people and discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation.

However, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, a Republican, announced his decision to veto the anti-LGBTQ religious liberty bill on Monday morning with the following statement.

“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based communities of Georgia…” Deal commented. “Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind, and generous people. And that’s what we should want.”

Several large corporations, including Apple and Salesforce, had stated that they opposed the discriminatory bill. The Motion Picture Associate of America also recently issued a statement, asking Governor Nathan Deal to veto HB 757 rather than sign it.

“We are confident that Governor Deal will not allow a discriminatory bill to become law in Georgia,” Vans Stevenson, senior vice president of state government affairs, said in the statement.

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ equality organizations, asked studios and production companies to reconsider committing to any further film production in Georgia if Deal failed to veto the bill.

Decatur-based telecom startup, 373K, already decided to relocate to Nevada as a response to the bill.

“We are very saddened by the Georgia Senate, which passed #HB757 also known as #FADA,” 373K, Inc. tweeted. “It’s time to relocate.”

Georgia has experienced a boom in film production over the past decade. In 2007, a mere $132.5 million was spent on film production in Georgia. By 2015, that number had risen to a whopping $1.7 billion. Studio boycotts would have been a huge blow to Georgia’s budding film production industry.

Disney and Marvel alone have spent a lot of money on film production in Georgia. The sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy is currently filming in the state. However, Disney and Marvel made it clear that if the bill did become law, they would not hesitate to take their business to another state:

“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,” the statement read.

After Disney and Marvel made their statement shunning the bill, AMC and Viacom both condemned the bill but did not promise a boycott.

Ensuring legal protection for LGBTQ folks is an important issue for Millennials. According to a 2015 poll by Generation Progress, Millennials strongly support federal, comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination legislation, providing protections for the LGBT community in employment and housing.

Alexandra Kilpatrick is a reporter with Generation Progress.

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