A “religious freedom” bill in Georgia that’s passed the legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature or veto, would legalize a wide array of discriminatory practices — from hiring to providing services — against LGBT people on the basis of religion. Last week, Hemant wrote that the NFL was threatening to withhold the Super Bowl from Atlanta if the bill was not vetoed. Now Disney has joined the effort, saying it will no longer film movies in the state if such a discriminatory bill becomes law.
“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,” a company spokesman said Wednesday.
Their concerns are not without merit, either. Under the guise of “religious freedom,” the bill:
… says no minister can be forced to perform a same-sex marriage and no individual can be forced to attend one — provisions, which critics point out, are already guaranteed by the First Amendment. It then goes on to say no faith-based organization “shall be required to provide social, educational, or charitable services that violate such faith-based organizations sincerely held religious belief” and that such organizations can’t be forced to “hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organizations sincerely held religious belief.” And it further says government can’t “substantially burden” a person’s exercise of religion unless it involves “a compelling government interest” — thereby extending its protections to individuals.
If this becomes law, the implications are huge — and deeply damaging — for LGBT Georgia residents. And if previous incarnations of these laws have demonstrated anything, it’s also likely to negatively affect other citizens as well as companies take their business elsewhere. It essentially elevates the religious inclinations and whims of some above the rights and dignity of others.
Kudos to Disney for taking a stand on the issue. If basic human decency won’t influence the government of Georgia, hopefully the threat of losing Mickey Mouse’s money will compel a little humanity.