Thanks to its generous tax incentives, Georgia has long been the go-to spot for big time productions, with mega franchise Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy sequel currently filming at Pinewood Studios outside of Atlanta; the same studio where production concluded on the soon to be released Captain America: Civil War last summer. There’s also a little zombie show called The Walking Dead that’s been filming in the Peach State for the last five years.
Well all of that could change should Georgia Governor Nathan Deal choose to pass a pending religious liberty bill, which states that “religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion”.
Which translates to mean if a church in Georgia doesn’t want to marry a couple, because they’re not a traditional male/female couple, then they don’t have to. It essentially legalizes discrimination in spite of the fact that, according to national law, it is most definitely illegal. The bill is also so vague that it could easily be interpreted to not only prevent marriage amongst LGBT community, but interracial couples as well . . .
Today, the Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios declared in no uncertain terms that, should this bill pass, they will be taking their business elsewhere. Variety reports: “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.”
AMC has also made clear their intent to vacate the longtime home of The Walking Dead should the bill become state law. “As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible,” a company spokesman said. “We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.”
The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has also spoken out against the bill, along with the Human Right’s Campaign, Coca Cola, Home Depot and most recently, Viacom the parent company of Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, just to name a few. Viacom issued a statement today saying: “Viacom is proud to champion diversity and acceptance, which are core values of our company. We have enjoyed doing business in Georgia for many years and we urge Governor Deal to continue to resist and reject the patently discriminatory laws being proposed.”
With Georgia being the third largest production hub in the nation, outranked only by California and New York, there are certainly PLENTY of other states who would happily take up the lost business. What it’s all going to boil down to is what Republican Governor Deal values more: individual religious freedom or the financial welfare of his state as a whole. There’s also that whole, Obergeffel v. Hodges case that ruled that marriage was a fundamental right of anyone, no matter their sexual orientation of color of the skin, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and that all states are legally required to allow same-sex marriage.