Currently Georgia is debating HB 757, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” the latest piece of legislation that “defends religion” while really just legalizing discrimination against gay people or others protected by civil rights laws. The legislation gives individuals a pass to deny service based on their religious beliefs. This is beyond business owners, but a pharmacist can deny medicine, a police officer can refuse to intervene, doctors could refuse medical care if you don’t adhere to their religious beliefs.
The legislation original was a measure to protect pastors who refused to perform same-sex weddings. “Extra protections” were added allowing for the discrimination by businesses and employees. It passed the Georgia House 104-65 when the “extra protections” were added.
It is currently headed to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk to be signed. The Governor has hinted he would not sign the bill.
Disney and Marvel have confirmed they would no longer film in Georgia if the legislation is passed. In a statement to Polygon a Disney spokesperson said:
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.
Currently the companies are filming Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 in the state, and have previously filmed Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War there. The Human Rights Campaign has called for Hollywood to pull all production out of the state if it’s passed and the Motion Picture Association of America has called the legislation “discriminatory.”
AMC‘s The Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia, and we have reached out for a statement from the production company. We’ll update this story if we receive a statement.
Similar legislation was passed in Indiana and Gen Con has threatened to leave the state over it. The legislation has since been modified. Dragon Con, a major convention in Georgia, has released a statement concerning the legislation.
Dragon Con is proud of its long history of accepting all fans, no matter who they are today or who they want to be during the convention. Which is why we are closely monitoring the “religious rights” bill just passed by the Georgia Legislature. As we did in 2015, when a similar bill was considered, Dragon Con’s leadership is working closely with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, which are actively lobbying against these discriminatory bills, to make our opinion known to Georgia legislators and the governor.
Our position has not changed: Legislation that hurts one of us, hurts all of us.
Unlike some conventions that have their headquarters outside the cities where they operate, Atlanta is the only home Dragon Con has ever had. Our founders and our convention leaders all have deep family roots in the metropolitan area. Over the last 30 years, we have seen the city change considerably, almost always for the better. We have great faith that our state’s leaders and legislators will, eventually, do the right thing for all Georgians.
Should this bill become law, we will seek written assurances from all of our business partners that they will not participate in any discriminatory behavior on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other point of identification. We have no intention now or in the future of supporting a business partner that discriminates.