Disney, Marvel and AMC threaten to stop filming in Georgia if ‘anti-gay’ bill passes
The Walt Disney Co. and AMC have threatened to boycott Georgia if a “religious freedom” bill described by many opponents as “anti-gay” becomes law.
The measure, House Bill 757, would bar government penalties against faith-based organizations that refuse to serve someone if it would violate a “sincerely held religious belief,” or hire someone “whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either” violate its religion.
It includes language based on a federal “religious freedom restoration act,” preventing government from burdening religious belief.
It also would allow religious officials to refuse performing gay marriages and protect any individual who refuses to attend a marriage that conflicts with their faith.
Public employees who refuse to perform their duties, such as a probate judge issuing marriage licenses, would not be covered. The bill says it doesn’t permit discrimination prohibited by federal or state law.
It has been hailed by religious conservatives but top employers and gay-rights advocates labeled it state-sanctioned discrimination, particularly against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.
The bill passed the State Assembly last week and is on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk.
There has been a wave of opposition from big-name corporations and sports organizations; Apple, Porsche, Atlanta’s professional sports teams and the NFL have spoken out against it. The NFL has warned that the bill could doom Atlanta’s bid to host a Super Bowl.
Disney — often through its Marvel division — has filmed big-budget movies including Captain America: Civil War in Georgia. New instalments in the Guardians Of the Galaxy and Thor series are also slated to be shot in the state. AMC’s massive zombie hit The Walking Dead has shot entirely in Georgia, as well. The hugely popular show has had a massive impact on the local tourism and housing markets.
“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,” Disney said in a statement, according to CNET.
AMC released a statement on Wednesday.
“As a company, 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.”
Georgia’s generous tax credit for film and television has caused the industry to boom in the state, adding $6 billion to Georgia’s economy this year, according to the state’s economic development agency.
Deal has until May 3 to sign, or not sign, the bill into law.
With files from The Associated Press
© 2016 The Associated Press