Big Business Warns Georgia, Missouri: Back Off Religious Liberty Bills

The NFL, NCAA, and other big businesses are pressuring the governors of Missouri and Georgia to stonewall religious liberty bills.

The Atlanta business community is worried Georgia could become the next Indiana, and is also pressuring Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) to veto a religious freedom bill.

“The current version of HB 757 may allow discrimination against our guests and employees and is in direct contradiction to our company’s anti-discrimination policy and culture of hospitality,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported InterContinental Hotels Group’s Paul Snyder wrote in a letter to senators and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

“If passed, it will send a message to our customers, employees and visitors from across the nation that Georgia is closed for business to a specific class of people.”

The owners of Atlanta's major sports teams -- the Hawks, the Falcons and the Braves -- have all come out against the religious liberty bill.

“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," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. "House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”

The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Greg Kirk (R), has refused to back away from HB 757. He argued the proposal has nothing at all to do with discrimination and everything to do with equal protection. He just wants to be sure the Georgia state government doesn’t take any action against “faith-based organizations or a person who holds faith-based, sincerely held beliefs as it relates to marriage.”

In other words, if a baker doesn't want to make a cake for a gay wedding, that should be okay. Let the couple find another baker.

Sen. Gloria Butler (D) strongly disagreed during Senate debate over Kirk’s legislation. As an African-American who was barred from a department store years ago because of the color of her skin, Butler said, she knows discrimination when she sees it.

“I refuse to believe the nature of our state is so dark,” she said.

The Washington Post reported the gay-rights group, Human Rights Campaign, wants Hollywood to promise to never shoot another movie in Georgia if Gov. Deal signs HB 757. Georgia is the third-most attractive state to Hollywood right now. Film and television productions accounted for $1.7 billion in Georgia in the 2015 fiscal year.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy made it painfully clear to Atlantans that if their legislature approves HB 757, which the league sees as a way to allow businesses to refuse to serve or hire gay people, Atlanta will fall off the shortlist of future Super Bowl sites.

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” McCarthy said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites,” he added.

There is NFL precedent for doing the politically correct thing. The league pulled the Super Bowl from Arizona in 1992 after the state refused to recognize the Martin Luther King federal holiday.