Under immense pressure from the entertainment and sports world, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced today that he would veto HB 757, a bill passed by the state’s legislature that would have allowed religious officials and faith-based organizations to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community.
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia of which my family and I are a part of for all of our lives,” Gov. Deal said in a statement to the press. “Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people.”
Governor Deal, a Republican, went against his party to veto the bill, which was being championed as an action to protect religious liberty but might have allowed companies to declare themselves “faith-based organizations” and engage in discriminatory hiring practices. Though Deal claims his decision came from legislative principle, cynics will be quick to point out the economic expediency of rejecting HB 757: much of the entertainment industry, most notably Disney, was threatening to take its business out of Georgia had the bill passed. (To be fair, the two modes of reasoning are not mutually exclusive.)
Because of Georgia’s favorable tax credits to film productions, the moviemaking industry there was valued at $1.7 billion in 2015; with Disney, Time Warner, Netflix, CBS, Fox, Sony Pictures, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, NBCUniversal, Discovery, Open Road Films, The Weinstein Company, Lionsgate, MGM, AMC and the NFL aligned in opposition to the bill, signing it into law would have been a potentially disastrous blow to the state’s economy.
Chalk this one up as another step in the direction of a world where religious freedom and LGBTQ lifestyles can coexist, even if it takes financial incentives to make it happen.