A so-called “religious liberty” bill passed by the Georgia senate and headed back to the house for consideration has caused an international backlash from business leaders, including Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson, Dell Computers founder Michael Dell and Microsoft president Brad Smith (the AJC has screen capped them at this link).
The intent of the bill was originally to protect clergy from having to perform same-sex marriages, but has, according to opponents, since evolved into allowing faith-based organizations that receive taxpayer money to refuse services to LGBT people, singles, unmarried partners and those of other faiths.
Over the weekend, London-based The Guardian reported that 400 companies have expressed their opposition to the bill. Heavy-hitters like Delta and Home Depot have long been against the bill (and iterations of it that have cropped up in previous legislative sessions), while the organizers of the giant science fiction/fantasy conference DragonCon have said on Facebook they are monitoring the legislation, which they labeled discriminatory. “Legislation that hurts one of us, hurts all of us,” DragonCon posted on Feb. 23, noting that it was working with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association to make its opposition known to legislators.
Along with the potential for legalizing discrimination against an array of citizens, opponents said Georgia could face an economic backlash – especially in the movie industry – if the bill is passed. Indiana passed similar legislation in 2015 that led to a boycott and backlash that forced the governor and legislature to amend its “religious freedom restoration act” legislation.