Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The growing corporate backlash to Georgia's 'religious liberty' bill


Our AJC business colleagues published this lengthy story on metro Atlanta companies raising new concerns about the "religious liberty" bill that passed the Senate earlier this month. It includes this passage:

Representatives of the popular annual Dragon Con festival, which brought more than 70,000 people to the metro area in 2015, said in a Facebook post they are monitoring the bill’s progress closely and that “legislation that hurts one of us, hurts all of us.”

“Unlike some conventions that have their headquarters outside the cities where they operate, Atlanta is the only home Dragon Con has ever had,” the group said. “We have great faith that our state’s leaders and legislators will, eventually, do the right thing for all Georgians.”

That measure, House Bill 757, would allow faith-based groups to cite their sincerely held religious beliefs to decline service to couples in relationships with which they disagree.

Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston have promised changes are coming to the measure, and the governor said Monday that the legislation is "a work in progress" as he offered a warning.

"I do not want us to do anything that will be perceived as allowing discrimination in the state of Georgia. That is not who we are as a people. And I don’t think we have to do that in order to give the security that the faith-based community thinks we need. I want to make sure we don’t go out of balance."

Meanwhile, a growing number of corporate honchos chimed in this weekend with their opposition to the bill.

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman:

Virgin chief executive Richard Branson:

Dell Inc. founder and chief executive Michael Dell:

And Microsoft president Brad Smith:

Then there was this poll from Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, who took on similar legislation in Indiana:

Supporters of the bill played their own defense over the weekend. From state Sen. Josh McKoon:

The AJC's Matt Kempner asked a similar question. 

A Salesforce spokeswoman emailed a statement to the AJC in response: “This discussion is about Georgia, where our local employees have asked us to get involved. We are not alone—more than 400 businesses have joined Georgia Prospers to oppose this bill in its current form. We were encouraged by comments from Governor Deal indicating that the bill is not in its final form. Salesforce believes in equality for all. Equal rights is an important issue, both in the U.S. and around the world, and we do whatever we can to protect our employees and customers from discrimination.”

 


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.