Hollywood threatens Georgia cinema production over 'religious liberty' bill

Hollywood threatens Georgia cinema production over 'religious liberty' bill
Gov. Nathan Deal (Source: Governor's Office)
Gov. Nathan Deal (Source: Governor's Office)
Sen. Greg Kirk (Ga. Senate photo)
Sen. Greg Kirk (Ga. Senate photo)
Rep. Jay Powell (Powell Facebook photo)
Rep. Jay Powell (Powell Facebook photo)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which says it is the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued a statement, saying it has sent a letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, denouncing House Bill 757.

The letter, signed by dozens of actors, producers, and others in cinema, says that Georgia, America's number three venue for TV and film production, will be abandoned by a large number of projects if he signs the bill, which has passed the state House and Senate.

House Bill 757 was sponsored by Representative Jay Powell of Camilla, and five other state reps, and Senator Greg Kirk of Americus.

A summary of the bill from the Georgia House says it "provides that religious officials won't be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion, change certain provisions of Georgia law relating to days of rest for employees, to protect property owners which are religious institutions against infringement of religious freedom, repeal conflicting laws and for other purposes."

The HRC says that HB 757 "Could undermine local non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people, permit hospitals to refuse to provide medically necessary care, or even allow a taxpayer-funded service provider to discriminate by denying a job because of the applicant's religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity."

Governor Deal has been quoted in various media sources as say that he would not support a law which he thinks is discriminatory.

The full letter to Governor Deal and signatures follow:

Dear Governor Deal,

As leaders in the entertainment industry, we have deep concerns about H.B. 757, which would sanction discrimination against LGBT people and others in Georgia.

As you know, Atlanta is often referred to as the Hollywood of the South. During the last fiscal year, at least 248 films and television productions were shot in Georgia, adding at least $1.7 billion in direct spending to the state's economy. Additionally, the entertainment industry helped to bring more than 100 businesses to Georgia through relocation or expansion in the past fiscal year. Only two states -- California and New York -- have a larger entertainment industry footprint and both have statewide non-discrimination protections on the books. Unfortunately, Georgia not only lacks such protections, but could soon move from a bad situation to worse with H.B. 757.

We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law.

We urge you to veto H.B. 757 and send a strong message that Georgia will not tolerate discrimination against citizens, employees and visitors to the state.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent issue."

Ali Adler, Writer and Producer
Greg Berlanti, Writer and Producer
Matt Bomer, Actor & Simon Halls, Publicist
Dustin Lance Black, Screenwriter and Filmmaker
Bradley Bredeweg, Executive Producer and Showrunner
Kristin Chenoweth, Actress and Singer
Diablo Cody, Writer, Producer and Director
Bruce Cohen, Producer
Lee Daniels, Producer and Director
Dana Fox, Writer and Producer
John Goldwyn, Producer
James Gunn, Writer and Director
Anne Hathaway, Actress
Alan Hergott, Entertainment Attorney
Nina Jacobson, Producer
Dan Jinks, Producer
Kathy Kennedy, Producer
Zoe Kravitz, Actress
Bryan Lourd, Talent Agent
Seth MacFarlane, Producer and Filmmaker
Laurence Mark, Producer
Frank Marshall, Producer and Director
Neil Meron, Producer
Julianne Moore, Actress
Ryan Murphy, Producer
Peter Paige, Executive Producer and Showrunner
Rob Reiner, Actor, Director and Producer              
Sarah Schechter, Producer
Adam Shankman, Director and Producer
Aaron Sorkin, Screenwriter and Producer
Marisa Tomei, Actress
Gus Van Sant, Producer and Director
Harvey Weinstein, Producer and Film Studio Executive
Craig Zadan, Producer and Director

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