Disney and Marvel Threaten Production Boycott if Georgia Anti-Gay Bill Is Signed
By Alex Ungerman
Major companies are sending a clear message to Georgia about its proposed religious liberty law.
Disney and Marvel, the National Football League and other major organizations have put out statements condemning the state’s Free Exercise Protection Act -- which would protect business that refuse to provide services that they say violate their faith, and has been widely criticized as being aimed at discriminating against the LGBT community -- that is currently on Republican Gov. Nathan Deal's desk, and must be signed or vetoed by May 3.
Because of significant tax credits for production companies, the Peach state has become a popular filming site for many films and TV shows, from several Marvel movies to AMC's The Walking Dead, to the Hunger Games films, but those relationships may be in jeopardy as several organizations are threatening to cut ties with the state if the law goes through.
The Walt Disney Corp., which includes Disney holding Marvel Studios, released a statement on Wednesday saying they would film their movies elsewhere, "should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law." Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is currently in production in the state.
The NFL weighed in on the law last week, suggesting that Atlanta could possibly be removed from contention to be a future Super Bowl host city should the law go through.
"NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," reads the statement league spokesman Brian McCarthy. "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."
The Atlanta Falcons football team has a new stadium set to open in 2017, where owner Arthur Blank is reportedly hoping to host several Super Bowls in the future.
AMC said "discrimination of any kind is reprehensible" in their own statement, adding, "We applaud Gov. Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well."
Shortly after, Viacom said in a statement, "Viacom is proud to champion diversity and acceptance, which are core values of our company. We have enjoyed doing business in Georgia for many years and we urge Governor Deal to continue to resist and reject the patently discriminatory laws being proposed."
Lionsgate said in a statement: "Lionsgate has deep roots in the State of Georgia in our film, television and location-based entertainment businesses. As a Company committed to diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance, we urge the Governor of Georgia to veto the deplorable and regressive legislation (House Bill 757) that has been sent to him. We take pride in our relationship with the people of Georgia and want to ensure that we can continue to offer our employees and talent there a working environment consistent with our policies and values."
Several more companies could follow suit, as the Human Rights Campaign called on Hollywood production companies to cancel productions in the state if the legislation goes through. The MPAA spoke out on Monday against the law, saying in a statement, "We are confident that Gov. Deal will not allow a discriminatory bill to become law in Georgia."
As speculation over the whether Deal will sign the law grows, more business leaders, including Dow Chemical, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.
We oppose discrimination in all forms. @GovernorDeal do the right thing and Veto House Bill 757. Proud to be an #LGBTQAlly