Today, HRC praised Disney and Marvel Studios for answering a call to action from HRC President Chad Griffin, who urged Hollywood to abandon future productions in Georgia if Governor Deal signs an anti-LGBT bill, H.B. 757, into law. The appalling legislation could weaken local non-discrimination protections and allow businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people, in addition to explicitly allowing discrimination by taxpayer-funded religious organizations.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, a Disney spokesperson today made the following statement: “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.”
“We applaud Disney and Marvel for standing up for fairness and equality by sending a strong warning to Governor Deal,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “It’s appalling that anti-LGBT activists in Georgia are trying to pass legislation creating an explicit right to discriminate against LGBT Americans. We urge other studios, major corporations, and fair-minded Georgians to continue speaking out and urging Gov. Deal to veto this heinous piece of legislation sitting on his desk.”
This past Saturday night at the Los Angeles HRC Gala, HRC President Chad Griffin addressed nearly 1,000 supporters and leaders in the entertainment industry and called on Hollywood to stop productions in Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t veto the new Indiana-style “license to discriminate” bill passed by the state legislature last week. According to the State of Georgia, which offers major tax incentives for entertainment companies to film in the state, at least 248 film and television productions were shot in Georgia during the state’s 2015 fiscal year. This resulted in at least $1.7 billion in direct spending as well as more than 100 new businesses relocating to or expanding in Georgia to support these activities.
In addition to Disney and Marvel Studios, sports teams, major corporations, and countless businesses have spoken out against the bill, including: Apple, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, Dell, Dow Chemical Company, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Hilton, Intel, Intercontinental Hotels, Live Nation Entertainment, Marriott, MailChimp, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Microsoft, NFL, Paypal, Salesforce, Square, Turner, Twitter, Unilever, Virgin, Yelp, and many others.
HRC and Georgia Unites delivered more than 75,000 email petitions to Gov. Deal urging him to veto the measure which could undermine local non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people, permit hospitals to refuse to provide medically necessary care, or even allow a taxpayer-funded service provider to discriminate by denying a job because of the applicant’s religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The discriminatory bill includes a so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), as well as retains and broadens discriminatory provisions that give explicit cover to taxpayer-funded religious organizations choosing to discriminate. While falsely framed as prohibiting the state government from making funding or tax status decisions based on an organization’s religious views, in reality it opens the door to discrimination in social services and employment against a wide range of Georgians. The RFRA and other provisions could result in a range of harms. Taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies could refuse to place children in desperate need of loving and caring homes with LGBT couples. Homeless shelters could turn away unwed couples and their families. Food pantries could turn away people of other faiths or even engage in race discrimination. Drug counseling centers could refuse to hire a qualified LGBT therapist.
Working to stop such reckless and discriminatory legislation, HRC is proud to be fighting alongside local advocates in Georgia Unites Against Discrimination – a joint project of HRC and Georgia Equality dedicated to protecting LGBT Georgians from discrimination and ensuring that individuals and businesses aren’t able to use religious beliefs as an excuse to harm others.