Multiple studios have vowed to boycott production in Georgia should the controversial Free Exercise Protection Act become law, but a Christian advocacy group says that the studios are picking and choosing when to make a stand.
“I feel like it’s hypocritical from some of these businesses because they do business in foreign countries that are very adverse to the LGBT community directly,” Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board told TheWrap.
“All these things being done — fear mongering and demagoguing this particular legislation — it’s gotten where any time anybody says anything about First Amendment rights, particularly religious freedom, it seems that people are trying to attach a narrative of discrimination to [the bill],” he continued.
But Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality, applauds the studios’ decision, even if it hurts Georgia’s bottom line.
“As a resident of Georgia, it pains me to see that this could have such a negative impact on our state’s reputation and our state’s economy,” Griffin told TheWrap. “However, I am certainly heartened that so many companies, executives and individuals associated specifically with the entertainment industry have spoken in opposition to legislation that clearly has the intent to discriminate against the LGBT community.”
“This is very broad legislation that was passed at the last minute without any real opportunity to fully vet what this legislation would be,” he continued. “We were given about an hour to review the bill before the legislature voted on it last week.”
On Wednesday, Disney said it would cease doing business in Georgia — which offers major tax incentives for filmmakers — should Gov. Nathan Deal sign the bill into law. The NFL has also said it will not host a Super Bowl in the state if the law is enacted.
By Thursday, the floodgates had opened, with every major Hollywood studio either joining the boycott or calling on Deal to veto the legislation.
Last week, the Georgia Assembly overwhelmingly passed the bill, which would allow faith-based organizations to refuse to provide services “that violate such faith-based organizations sincerely held religious belief.”
The bill would strengthen legal protections for opponents of same-sex marriages and allow faith-based organizations in Georgia to refuse services to anyone they find “objectionable.”
The proposed law would also allow faith-based groups to deny “social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” It would also protect groups that decide not to hire individuals whose religious beliefs conflict with those of an organization.