Less than a week after Disney, the National Football League and numerous other major companies threatened to take its business, including conventions elsewhere., vetoed a bill that would allow discrimination against members of the LGBT community. He killed the so called Religious Liberty Bill that had caused so much anger nationally.
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith based community in Georgia,” Gov. Deal said Monday. “Georgia is a welcoming state.” With the veto coming weeks before the May 3 deadline, Deal added that House Bill 757 “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people.”
Over the past two weeks the state has come under heavy pressure from business executives from dozens of big-name companies, including Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel and Salesforce, all calling on the governor to veto the bill. The NFL warned it could risk Atlanta’s bid for the Super Bowl and the NCAA hinted it could influence the state’s ability to host championship games. And Deal’s office said two economic development prospects have already abandoned Georgia because of the legislation.
They joined with gay rights groups who warned that the measure amounts to legalized discrimination and pointed to the corporate outrage that rocked Indiana after a similar measure was signed into law there.
In March of 2015 Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a similar bill even after Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Kevin Brinegar warned that the bill will have severe effects on the state’s economy. They estimated the cost in lost business to the state could reach into the billions.
Then in April of 2015 Indiana’s governor and its legislature’s made changes to a controversial religious freedom law to clarify that businesses are not authorized to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Only after there a sizable amount of pressure from a number of the same companies that threatened not to do business in Georgia.
The next state likely to feel the corporate wrath will be North Carolina, where the NBA suggested last week that a bill signed into law this week that is being criticized as “anti-gay” could cost the state the league’s all-star game next year.
The game is currently scheduled to be played at the Time Warner Cable Arena, the home of the Charlotte Hornets, on Feb. 19, 2017.
The bill, which was signed into law Wednesday, overturned a city ordinance in Charlotte that banned discrimination of LGBT individuals. The Charlotte ordinance was passed in February, but the state bill overruled it and prevents other North Carolina cities from enacting similar policies.
The NBA said via Twitter that it is “deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte.”
The NCAA has threatened to not to hold any championship events in the state, the Atlantic Coast Conference, has also voiced concern over the legislation. At least ten Fortune 500 companies that were looking to do business in North Carolina have put their plans on hold.
We will see if North Carolina follows the path that both Georgia and Indiana did in the face of business pressure.