To put it mildly, Disney and Marvel are NOT happy about Georgia's (the U.S. state, not the country) Religious Liberty Bill, a law that if passed, many feel would allow outright discrimination against gay people. The companies are taking a stand, and putting their money where their mouths are, saying they’ll boycott film production in the state of Georgia if the bill passes.
The proposed bill would allow religious organizations to refuse to marry same-sex couples, and to reject services and employment to anyone who violates their beliefs. Currently, religious organizations have the freedom to accept or refuse to marry same-sex couples - just as LGBT people can choose to accept or reject a particular religion - but the proposed bill creates a larger issue by putting discriminatory practices into law. If an entire region agrees it’s ok to be prejudiced against a group of people, those people will undoubtedly suffer.
A boycott from Disney and Marvel would have huge financial ramifications for Georgia. Atlanta has been a major hub for film and TV production, due to their generous tax incentives. in the last few years, Ant-Man, featuring Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd, was filmed just outside of the city; Captain America: Civil War starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey Jr. was shot there last summer; and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 featuring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana is currently in production in the city. Losing huge blockbusters like these would have a major impact on the state of Georgia.
A Disney spokesperson spoke about the issue, saying, “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.”
Disney and Marvel are not the only entertainment companies to voice their opposition to the bill, the MPAA has also spoken out against what they call a "discriminatory" bill, and AMC Networks, which films its show The Walking Dead in Georgia, issued a statement calling the bill "reprehensible.”
At their gala last weekend, the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to equality, also took a stand against the bill. HRC president Chad Griffin spoke of the bill, calling it "un-American," and telling Hollywood leaders, “You have the influence and the opportunity to not only defeat this bill, but to send a message that there are consequences to passing dangerous and hateful laws like this. We’re asking you to join us as we urge TV and film studios, directors and producers, to commit to locating no further productions in the state of Georgia if this bill becomes law.”
Georgia's governor, Nathan Deal, has not made a decision as to whether or not he will sign or veto the bill. We’ve come a long way in recent years, with gay marriage being legalized in all fifty states in 2015, a bill like this would be a major set back.
Last year, Indiana passed a similar law, but when companies threatened to move their business elsewhere, it was revised. Hopefully Georgia legislators can learn from them, and refuse to perpetuate hate. We’ll keep you posted.
What do you think of the controversial bill?