Despite the best effort of the Georgian House of Representatives, the state will keep a metaphorical welcome mat out. Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial bill that was dubbed as protecting religious freedom, but commonly read as discriminatory toward members of the LGBT community, according to an article in the LA Times.
We, the Editorial Board, believe Governor Deal was correct in vetoing House Bill 757 and applaud the businesses that helped sway the veto. It’s inspiring to see companies use their influence to maintain equal rights, even when governments have failed to do so.
HB 757 would have allowed clergy to refuse to perform marriage rights which violated their personal beliefs as well as protected the religious freedoms of faith-based communities, such as churches, private schools and adoption agencies, according to an ABC News report.
The combined clout of threats from Disney and the NFL to pull business from the Peach State helped convince Deal to veto the bill.
With a smaller bureaucratic system, businesses can generally make more agile changes to various hiring policies and employee rights that the government can do. Because of the systematic differences, both Disney and the NFL have generous inclusivity policies that HB 757 would have violated.
The LA Times reported the great lengths Georgia has recently gone through to become attractive to studios such as Disney. Georgia has some of the best tax incentives for studios, encouraging Disney and AMC to produce “Ant-Man,” “Captain American: Civil War” and “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” outside of Atlanta.
According to a Georgia Department of Economic Development statement, 248 film and television productions were shot throughout the state, bringing in $1.7 billion to the state. The economic effect of the projects generated more than $6 billion in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
If that bottom line wasn’t enough, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that HB757 could jeopardize Atlanta’s bid to be host to either the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl.
Atlanta is currently in the process of building a new stadium for the Falcons. According to the Atlanta Business Chronical, the ongoing construction budget is ballooning to $1.5 billion. With that amount of investment, Atlanta and the Falcons need a Super Bowl to offset the costs.
While a regular season will bring in modest revenues, hosting a Super Bowl will bring fans from across the nation with a need to spend on travel, lodging and food, which will ultimately balance the construction costs.
Despite the religious protections this bill could have provided, it would have undone years of fiscal maneuvers previous and current governments are working to achieve. If the state chose to protect the rights of an outspoken minority, it would have sacrificed millions of tax dollars.
By forcing Georgia to protect is business interests, Disney and the NFL were able to uphold every citizen’s constitutional rights better than elected officials. That’s truly a fairy tale ending and a Super Bowl shut-out.