Georgia Governor Under Pressure From Hollywood, Businesses to Veto 'Anti-LGBT' Bill
The governor has until April to decide.
By SUSANNA KIM
March 25, 2016, 10:53 PM
• 4 min read
-- Hollywood stars and major U.S. companies have spoken out against a bill in Georgia that they argue discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Georgia's House Bill 757, known as the Free Exercise Protection Act but by critics as the "anti-LGBT" bill, includes language that protects clergy from performing marriage rites that violate their religious beliefs, protects faith-based nonprofits hiring employees who support and practice their religion and businesses from opening on their respective Sabbath.
The bill says the government can't intrude on the religious rights of an organization or an individual unless it has a strong interest to do so.
"All of us cringe when we use the word discrimination. Nobody wants discrimination," Rev. Mike Griffin, public affairs representative with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told ABC News. The Georgia Baptist Mission Board supports the bill.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokesperson has reportedly said that he will review the bill next month, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. If deal doesn't veto the measure by May 3, it will become law on July 1.
On Thursday the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group in the nation, submitted a letter to Deal with a long list of Hollywood A-players, including Anne Hathaway and Julianne Moore, saying they won't work in the state unless the bill is vetoed.
"We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law," the letter states.
Corporations who have made statements opposing the bill include Time Warner, the NFL and the Walt Disney Company, which is the parent company of ABC News.
Proponents of the bill say it protects the religious freedom of those in the faith-based community, including churches, private schools and adoption agencies.
"This does not cover government employment or a baker who refuses to bake a cake," Griffin said, adding that the bill would not allow clerks like Kim Davis in Kentucky to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Griffin distinguishes this proposal from a just-passed law in North Carolina that specifically directs all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses to require that multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, be designated for use only by people based on their "biological sex" stated on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity.
"None of that is addressed in here. You don't see anybody of faith trying to promote Jim Crow laws here," Griffin said.