Georgia House Bill 757 is a new bit of “religious freedom” legislation currently in the late stages of the approval process that would prevent the government from penalizing organizations that deny “social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” The bill also has language that handcuffs the state government’s ability to “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a law, rule, regulation, ordinance or resolution of general applicability.”
In practical terms, this bill would be a check on the civil rights of gay people in Georgia. It’s transparently not about guaranteeing religious liberties or anything nearly that noble. Here, look what this State Senator told the New York Times:
“When the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage, dynamics changed,” said State Senator Greg Kirk, a Republican. “There was a need for a law, for this law, and it took Georgia to lead the way of the country to put this law together.”
757 breezed through Goergia’s legislature, and it now sits with Governor Nathan Deal. Deal has been public about his hesitancy to sign a bill this hateful, and he appears to be carefully weighing his options. The NFL has stepped into the fight, and they released the following statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
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.
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Atlanta’s new stadium opens in 2017, and they’ve been very vocal about wanting the Super Bowl in 2019. The NFL, for their part, has flexed their muscles like this before. They leaned on Arizona before Super Bowl XLIX in response to a similar anti-gay law, and even moved Super Bowl XXVII from Arizona to Los Angeles in 1993 because Arizona refused to recognize MLK Day.