Standing behind Marvel, Disney, and Georgia governor’s veto

Estie Pyper, Staff Writer

Georgia lawmakers approved the extremely controversial Free Exercise Protection Act on March 16, causing a large number of major companies to threaten to boycott the state. This “religious liberty” bill permits religious leaders to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, allows religious organizations to reject use of their space for events that they deem to be discordant with their faith, and enables faith-based entities to refrain from hiring employees with differing religious beliefs. On March 28, Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the bill, taking a strong stance against discrimination. Many others, myself included, wholeheartedly support this decision and hope that other states will follow suit to prevent similar bills from becoming law in America.

Ever since the legalization of gay marriage in June 2015, many lawmakers have attempted to create “religious liberty” bills to combat the ruling. Those in support of such bills believe that their religious freedom would be violated if they are not passed. Opponents to the bills rightfully argue that they legalize the discrimination of the LGBTQ community. This controversial topic has caused a violent backlash in many states, but the most recent episode in Georgia was the first to gain an immense amount of support from major companies and networks that are crucial to the state’s production.

In recent years, Georgia has become a large production hub. Located just outside of Atlanta, Pinewood Atlanta Studios provides space for major feature films and is the current production site of Marvel and Disney’s most recent lovechild, “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.” These two companies in particular threatened to leave Pinewood should this bill be passed.

“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,” a Disney spokesman said.

They are not the only major businesses to do so. Recently, Time Warner, the NFL, AMC, Coca-Cola, Delta, and many others have joined the fight against this bill, threatening to cease business ventures in the state.

Deal’s veto of the bill has set an important precedent for other states facing similar bills and provides hope that this country has the power to successfully battle for equality. The veto proves that major companies heavily influence these decisions as well, and shows the necessity of standing up for what we know is right.

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