ATLANTA—Some of the biggest names in Hollywood—from actors and directors to major TV and movie studios—have called on Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto the atrocious anti-LGBT House Bill 757 (H.B. 757). Stars including Julianne Moore, Anne Hathaway, Lee Daniels, Ryan Murphy and Kristin Chenoweth, have sent a letter to Atlanta urging Gov. Deal not to sign the draconian bill, which would legalize discrimination by allowing Georgia businesses to deny LGBT people services and employment based on dangerously-defined, so-called “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Additionally, entertainment conglomerates such as Marvel, Disney, Netflix, CBS Corporation, Fox, Lionsgate, Sony, AMC, the Weinstein Company, NBC Universal, MGM and Discovery have all issued statements expressing extreme disappointment over the proposed measure, threatening to move production out of the Peach State if Gov. Deal signs H.B. 757 into law.
The statements and letter come in the wake of a call to action from HRC President Chad Griffin, who delivered a speech in Los Angeles last Saturday encouraging Hollywood power players to speak out against the perilous legislation, which would weaken local non-discrimination protections and allow businesses to target and deny service to LGBT people, as well as explicitly permit bias by taxpayer-funded religious organizations.
Georgia offers major tax incentives for entertainment companies to film in the state: At least 248 film and television productions were shot in the state during the 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 ventures. Hollywood and local and national business want Gov. Deal and his state’s residents to know that if this harmfully antiquated bill becomes law, Georgia will lose millions or even billions of dollars in revenue from the loss of various major firms, film studios and actors who will no longer want to work there. In addition to Hollywood, 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.
Gov. Deal must meet a May 3 deadline in deciding whether to veto this bill, sign it, or to allow it to become law without his John Hancock. Whatever his verdict, it seems apparent the bill will continue to draw negative scrutiny to Georgia, as well as the deeply concerned attention of progressive advocates around the nation who refuse to let the clock turn back on LGBT equality without a fight.