Another conservative idea from the extremist right which is a stupid idea has put Georgia in the headlights of major corporations in the state, and has opened the door to exodus of at least one corporation.
The NFL has decided it really doesn’t want a Superbowl in a state where it’s paying customers can be discriminated against because someone’s “religion” tells them they don’t have to deal with gays, minorities, or other religions based on whatever whack-job interpretations some back-alley ignorant arsed so called preacher comes up with.
Roger Goodell, chairman of the National Football League is on the cusp of becoming America’s newest gay icon.
Goodell, who has an openly gay brother, and the NFL, have emerged as staunch allies in gay rights advocates’ efforts to defeat HB 757, the controversial religious freedom bill that passed the Georgia legislature late last week.
HB 757 began the year as “the Pastor Protection Act,” a measure giving clergy the right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. But after two trips through the Georgia state House and Senate, the bill now gives faith-based organizations the right to hire and fire people who violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” as well as the right to refuse to rent facilities for events they find “objectionable.”
The bill would also make it illegal to force an individual to attend a gay wedding.
With every expansion of the bill, Georgia legislators were warned by local business leaders not to do to Georgia what Indiana legislators did in 2015, when their own Religious Freedom Restoration Act led to an immediate nationwide backlash, including more than 400 million #BoycottIndiana tweets in the week the bill passed.
A year later, local tourism officials estimate the city lost at least 12 conventions and $60 million in direct business as a result.
Brandon Lorenz, communications director with the Human Rights Campaign, called Georgia’s HB 757 “an Indiana-style bill that blatantly promotes discrimination.”
“The Georgia legislature took a bad bill and made it worse.” Lorenz said. “This is a bill that has all kinds of avenues for harm and discrimination for Georgians.”
Along with LGBT advocates, major players in Georgia’s business community have ripped the legislation.
Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta Airlines oppose it. Michael Dell, Richard Branson, and Jack Dorsey have all spoken out against it. SalesForce CEO Mark Benioff, who has 16,000 employees in Georgia, has warned he’ll pull as much of his business as possible out of the state, tweeting last week:
“Once again Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate. When will this insanity end?”
But in a state where football is practiced like a religion, it has been the loud and unanimous objections of the sports community that has raised the greatest doubts about whether Gov. Nathan Deal will sign the bill.
In addition to the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Braves, who called the bill “detrimental to our community and bad for Georgia,” Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank warned the bill would have a “long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”
“One of my bedrock values is ‘Include Everyone’ and it’s a principle we embrace and strive to live each and every day with my family and our associates, a vast majority of which live and work in Georgia,” he said.
Blank has taken the lead in the city’s efforts to bring the Super Bowl to the city, including with a new $1.7 billion Mercedes-Benz stadium already under construction in downtown Atlanta. But on Friday, Goodell and the NFL dropped a bomb on Atlanta’s hopes of hosting the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowls when it said the RFRA bill would endanger the city’s bids if Deal signs it into law.