The movement against the religious privilege bill, HB 757, is gathering steam in the business community through a coalition called Georgia Prospers. From The Guardian:
A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing a Georgia “religious liberty” bill that is rapidly heading toward passage, with at least one major company already leaving the state over the proposal.
The proposed law would allow both individuals and organizations to refuse to conduct business with or otherwise discriminate against anyone whose marriage they find counters their religious beliefs. It also protects individuals from existing nondiscrimination laws in Atlanta and elsewhere.
A similar bill was dismissed last year, but the speed at which this year’s version, the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), is moving has raised serious concerns among state lawmakers, business owners, the faith community and activists.
The bill passed both the House and, in a different form, the Senate this month. The most recent version bars the government from taking “adverse action” against a person or faith-based organization that “believes, speaks, or acts in accordance” with the religious belief that “marriage should only be between a man and a woman”.
Just in the last week, roughly 100 businesses have joined a coalition of what is now over 400 companies opposing the religious freedom bill. The group Georgia Prospers, of which Moore is a member, includes a range of businesses – from Fortune 500 companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot to smaller ones across the state – in support of “treating all Georgians and visitors fairly”.
Several have cited fears that Georgia will suffer lost revenue, as in Indiana where public disdain for a similar bill, before it even became law, is said to have cost the state $60m. Atlanta’s chamber of commerce and visitors’ bureau produced separate studies citing a potential loss of $1bn to $2bn if the bill passes without civil rights protections.
So the religious privilege bill, which State Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus (who crafted the RFRA bill which went down in flames last year and has not seen daylight this year) has been busy defending on Twitter and Facebook, is now becoming a fight between religiously-privileged politicians and the large businesses which Republicans in Georgia have gone through hell and high water to recruit over the last two decades, as evidenced by the ongoing social media fight between McKoon and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. According to SaportaReport.com, the Georgia Prospers initiative, which formed in early January, is being led by former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance.
For local interest, Synovus Financial Inc., which is among the 32 largest employers in Columbus, is among the companies which signed the Georgia Prospers pledge, as are other companies based or branched in Columbus, including:
- Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau,
- The Coca Cola Company,
- Columbus Regional Health,
- NCR Corporation,
Of course, the largest private-sector employers in Columbus with employee forces of over 1,000, are not yet listed as supporters of the pledge, including AFLAC, TSYS, Kia Motors, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia and Pratt & Whitney.
If you’re employed at any one of these businesses here in Columbus, please politely ask them to sign this pledge. Your state will thank you.
Jenner Wood, 2016 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, supports Georgia Prospers in the following video: