Georgia Defends Religious Liberty, Angering the NFL

Georgia has passed a religious liberty bill over the objections of the governor and many in-state companies like UPS, Coke, SunTrust Banks, MailChimp, and others. Gay rights groups are calling on the film industry to bypass Georgia for its film projects. “Georgia’s Economic Development Department reports nearly 250 filming projects set up shop in Georgia in fiscal 2015, spending about $1.7 billion in the state.” (H/T: AJC)

Now the National Football League has gotten into the act. The following is a statement from spokesman Brian McCarthy who claims “that the proposed law runs contrary to the league’s values of ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusivity’”:

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

Yep, there are so many self-admitted homosexuals in the NFL, and the only one the NFL did have was released. Now that’s “diversity” for you. Does anyone actually believe that football enthusiasts will boycott NFL games because of Georgia’s religious liberty law that protects people from being forced to service a point of view contrary to their own? Give me a break.

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Other states have the same type of law that is being considered by the governor of Georgia. “In fact, the history of the Super Bowl since 1997 — when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal RFRA did not apply to state and local governments — shows the vast majority of the games have been played in (or awarded to, in the case of the 2017 and 2018 games) states with similar laws on the questions of religious liberty and LGBT rights.”

Read related article: “Open Letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.”

Georgia GayThe following opinion piece was written by Kyle Wingfield, the Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s conservative columnist:

The NFL has issued a thinly veiled threat not to award a Super Bowl to Atlanta if Gov. Nathan Deal signs the religious-liberty bill that legislators adopted last week. This possibility, to which the bill’s opponents have pointed as the kind of damage it would do to Georgia’s economy, is instead a perfect example of how debate surrounding the bill has devolved into misinformation, posturing, and hypocrisy.

Why? Because the two states that are home to the other cities competing against Atlanta for the 2019 and 2020 games, Florida and Louisiana, already have pretty much the same laws Georgia is considering.

Neither Florida nor Louisiana has attempted to force pastors to perform marriages to which they object, to force religious institutions to rent their property for events to which they object, or to force businesses to be open on days their owners consider to be days of rest — the least controversial parts of Georgia’s House Bill 757.

Neither of those states has attempted to allow religious exceptions to employment law beyond what federal law already allows — and nor does Georgia, since HB 757 specifically says it does not supersede “the Constitution of this state or the United States or federal law” on the matter.

Both Florida and Louisiana have adopted the language from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which HB 757 includes. Unlike HB 757, neither Florida’s RFRA nor Louisiana’s includes a provision acknowledging it does not override federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

Like Atlanta, the Super Bowl-finalist cities of Miami, New Orleans, and Tampa have local ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Like Georgia, Florida’s and Louisiana’s RFRAs are silent on the matter of local non-discrimination ordinances. Although some of HB 757’s critics claim its silence will lead to a court challenge to Atlanta’s ordinance, that has not happened in those other cities. There is no reason to think, based on the judicial history of other states, that a challenge to Atlanta’s ordinance would be successful.

Like Georgia, neither Florida nor Louisiana recognizes LGBT individuals as a protected class. So the claim that RFRAs in other states aren’t comparable because they are accompanied by civil-rights protections just isn’t true in those cases. Like Georgia, Florida and Louisiana have no LGBT anti-discrimination laws regarding employment, housing or public accommodations. Nor does either of those states have an LGBT anti-discrimination law regarding adoption.

Read related article: “Governor Uses Bible to Deny the Bible and Our Liberty.”

For that matter, neither does the state in which next year’s Super Bowl will be held, Texas. What’s more, voters in that host city, Houston, last year repealed the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance in a campaign that famously was fueled in large part by the slogan “No men in women’s bathrooms.” How did the NFL respond to that controversy? It said it would keep the 2017 game there anyway.

Read the rest of the article here.

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