Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Destructive Policy in Action (Part 1)



Georgia—All hell broke loose when the Ga. legislature first proposed and then passed “religious freedom” legislation sanctioning bias against people who are, or are perceived to be, non-heterosexuals.The Atlanta-based organizers of the massive DragonCon convention, which brought 70,000 people and untold sums of money to Georgia last year alone, threatened to find a new home should Georgia’s “religious freedom” bill become law. Their threat was mirrored by threats of boycott from myriad television and film studios and production companies, which have been increasingly attracted to the state owing to the incentives Georgia has put in place to attract the industry. The voices of dissent soon swelled to include the top executives at a vast range of corporations, including Virgin, Unilever, Microsoft, Dell, multiple sports organizations including the NCAA and the NFL, and hundreds of Georgia businesses, including Home Depot, Coca-cola, UPS, SunTrust, SalesForce, and AT&T. On Friday, in a statement made to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the NFL "said any form of discrimination is inconsistent with its business practices and could affect the awarding of the Super Bowl.” This announcement followed statements of strong condemnation from all of Atlanta’s four sports teams. Proponents of the bill say that it protects the religious freedoms of churches, businesses, and individuals, ensuring that they will not be forced to hire, provide services for, or otherwise accommodate individuals, couples, or groups, when doing so would violate their faith. Critics of the bill say that religious freedom is already guaranteed by both the U.S. Constitution and Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. This bill, critics claim, instead makes state sanctioned discrimination against non-heterosexuals the law of the land.Despite the overwhelming outcry and the sweeping promises of boycotts, Georgia’s strongly right-winged legislature passed House Bill 757 anyway, leaving Gov. Nathan Deal to decide whether to accept the fallout and sign it, or take the risk of angering far-right supporters and veto the bill.
Image uncredited; filched from “Marriage Equality Does not Affect Religious Liberty” by Julian Drury