Georgia’s top recruiter gets earful on ‘religious liberty’ bill

Hollywood, Silicon Valley and major companies across Georgia are up in arms about a controversial “religious liberty” bill that sits on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that the state’s top recruiter has also gotten an earful about the legislation.

Chris Carr

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr

Chris Carr, the state commissioner of economic development, is tasked with recruiting businesses to the state and helping existing ones grow. His office also oversees workforce development and the state’s burgeoning film business.

Carr, as a matter of Department of Economic Development policy, doesn’t discuss the merits of pending legislation. But on Wednesday, Carr confirmed that he has been on the phone with companies about the contentious legislation.

While he wouldn’t divulge what those firms might have said – or what he said in response – Carr made it clear that “folks are weighing in on the issue.”

“We’ve taken it and we’ve passed those messages on to the governor; and the governor has made it very, very clear what his position is and has addressed it in the media,” Carr said in a brief interview after a luncheon with the Atlanta Trend networking group at the Holland & Knight law firm in Midtown.

Deal’s office has also heard plenty from proponents of the bill who say it is a necessary protection for faith-based groups.

A number of conservative groups have started robo-calls or made other efforts to push supporters to contact Deal and convince the governor to sign the bill.

Deal has said he would not tolerate a bill that allows discrimination – something critics say the bill does – but he has also said he was “pleasantly surprised” state lawmakers reached a deal on a bill after years of intense debate. As reported last week:

Deal told our AJC colleague Laura Diaz that he plans on reviewing the measure in April but that he won’t telegraph his intentions. Deal, who earlier warned that he would reject any measure that he believed amounted to legalized discrimination, ducked a question over whether he thought this version crossed that line.

“I have heard from both sides and I’m sure I’ll continue to hear from both sides,” he told Diaz. “I will take their opinions into consideration, and I’ll do what I’m required to do: Which is to make the difficult decision on a very difficult subject.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, often an ally of Deal’s in recruiting and other arenas, has been playing damage control with prospects.

“For us a great deal of work is ahead to deal with the devastating consequences of this legislation,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week.

On Wednesday, entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel Studios subsidiary said it might pull its productions out of Georgia if Deal signs HB 757.

The statement from Disney and subsidiary Marvel Studios raised the pressure on Deal, who has until May 3 to decide whether to sign the legislation approved last week in the Georgia Legislature.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a Disney spokesman said.

A recent string of high-profile Disney films were produced in Georgia, including “Ant-Man” and “Captain America: Civil War.” Marvel is now shooting “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” at Pinewood Studios in south Atlanta.

AMC Networks, the cable outlet that shoots “The Walking Dead” in Georgia, also called on Deal to veto the measure on Wednesday. The network said in a statement that “discrimination of any kind is reprehensible” and praised him for criticizing a previous version of the legislation.

The calls from Disney follow sharp criticism from companies such as Salesforce, Atlanta’s pro sports franchises, the National Football League and others denouncing the bill.

Atlanta officials also fear losing a chance at nabbing a Super Bowl at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2019, 2020 or 2021.

The last day of the 2016 legislative session ends today. It could be weeks before Deal makes his call on the legislation. Don’t expect the pressure from either side of the issue to die down any time soon.

Past Coverage

Weeks of debate ahead over Georgia ‘religious liberty’ bill

Nathan Deal’s vexing decision on ‘religious liberty’

Analysis: Bill could be used to overturn anti-discrimination ordinances

Sandy Springs councilman proposed LGBT protections

Isakson says Georgia should leave religious liberty up to Feds

Reader Comments 0

54 comments
Karen J Britton
Karen J Britton

I own a funeral home . Pass that Bill and I start doing business with the gays strictly

RHallman
RHallman

Anything to get some people (traffic) to leave would be good.

Justin K Ace
Justin K Ace

GUESS WHAT! All these companies that are threatening to leave are already doing business in other states who have a stricter policy in place ALREADY!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Lascelles Forrester
Lascelles Forrester

As far as I can tell the bill does not promote discrimination, but aims to protect folks from being forced to compromise their religious principles. Discrimination should not be allowed.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

So they will not sell stuff or services to adulterers, murderers, divorced people, liars,...all those who break God's rules? Seems like they are limiting their success and profits!

And just how do they know someone is gay? An adulterer? murderer?divorced?  A liar? Do they wear a scarlet letter? Tattoo? Or do they just know? Yeah, right!

TimeforTea
TimeforTea

 Sorry but GA HB 757 only covers faith based institutions and their auxiliaries.  It doesn't cover businesses.  So the argument the left is making is a red herring.  No one will be refused service at the lunch counter.  What will be protected is the right of religious institutions to not host or be forced to perform ceremonies or functions they hold to be against their beliefs (including Jewish synagogues, mosques, etc.)  The federal government and other state governments have similar protections.  The left is just demonizing this bill because they want to bully the portions of the public that are uninformed into thinking it's discriminatory.  Good grief.  Both you AND those that don't agree with you deserve the same protections.  

GARJON59
GARJON59

One thing this bill has done is expose the normally hidden side of legislation. Regardless of how the representatives of the people vote or structure laws, economics will always champion the day. 


It shows how worthless a vote cast in any election has become since the money will drive the ultimate outcome.


BornSkeptic
BornSkeptic

I'm embarrassed that this conversation even has to happen in Georgia in this century. But it's pretty typical of the "religious right" that infests this state. Most are hypocrits and only use the Bible to try and get what they want. They wouldn't know Jesus Christ if they stepped over him in the street, which they certainly would. Read your Bible, "Christians"! Learn who Jesus was and what he was trying to teach you. Jesus gave his life that you might learn love, tolerance, peace, and compassion. Gays and lesbians were born gay and lesbian. I know this for a fact. They're not trying to get special privileges in Georgia or anywhere else. They're simply asking that they be treated just like any other citizen. And they have that right under our constitution. No state can take that right away. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not following the teaching of Jesus Christ and, therefore, cannot rightly call themselves "Christian".

UltraElf
UltraElf

@BornSkeptic Who wants to call themselves  a christian anyways. That is an open invitation to be targeted by gays.

Clark7371
Clark7371

All these concerns about freedom are one sided. Why can't a member of the clergy have the freedom to decide if he/she should take part in a ceremony that goes against their religious beliefs?  Why do folks champion the rights and freedoms of the gay community but ignore the rights and freedoms of those who feel differently?  This bill is not discrimination. Once again, tolerance is preached as long as you see things a certain way.  But there is no tolerance for religious views.  I wouldn't want a minister who didn't believe in my marriage to perform the ceremony anyway.  There are plenty others who will.

BornSkeptic
BornSkeptic

John 6:37

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

cinthea
cinthea

@Clark7371 okay then, lets not allow divorcees, adulterers, masturbators, those who are in mixed marriages, those who have had abortions, and many more to have ceremonies. 


lets make sure to include them all, because they are all just as bad. why are you only choosing one sin to treat like an outcast. lets get em all out. 


I will absolutely stand by a bill that hates equally!

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Because they are in GA due to how much they care about LGBT's rights.  Right.


They are here because of what Libs used to derisively call "Corporate Welfare" - that is, until the Libs decided they would try to use the threat of the loss of those jobs to scare everyone into submission.  Suddenly "corporate welfare" is a good thing!!!!


Too funny.  I guess consistency isn't one of your characteristics.  Just hypocrisy.  

cinthea
cinthea

@dcdcdc let us know who you are so we can be sure you have not sinned. we want to make sure you are holy.....so spill your personal info, we will check to make sure you have never sinned, and then you can preach. 

why arent you worried about more common sins among your friends? divorce is way more common than a gay individual - lets start there. no ceremonies for them in churches. now, those who cheat and masturbate....oh wait, is no one left to fill the donation basket? 

Tara McDaniel
Tara McDaniel

All I can think is how I can't believe my tax dollars are paying the people who came up with this. I am a straight 35 year old woman, so in most cases this bill doesn't affect me. A persons sexual preference is not my business, and I am tired of so much time and resources being put toward ignorant hateful things like this. Waste of time is right!!!

John Washington
John Washington

I bet the legislature's most recent proposal, to force companies with non-discrimination policies to allow their employees to discriminate, will go over real well with those businesses he's trying to recruit.

robo2000
robo2000

The entertainment industry decides what audience they wish to serve with every movie they make, what if the government required them to serve others that went against their wishes.

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

Pass the bill it's already law in 21 states. Pass the one from Florida. None of them left. Tax there taxpayers incentives away

Carol Duke
Carol Duke

The entertainment industry spent 8billion dollars in Ga.ad these idiots at the Capitol just threw it away.

UltraElf
UltraElf

If Idi Amin and Mussolini gave GA 8 billion bucks, would you be all gung ho?

Bob Fawcett
Bob Fawcett

if any state can screw it up it is Georgia.

Zach Ranger
Zach Ranger

Maybe they can put new churches in all the empty business buildings when Georgia's economy tanks because of this bill.

Zach Ranger
Zach Ranger

Stop hitting on me, Justin. I'm not interested.

Justin K Ace
Justin K Ace

Keep putting your head in the sand and see how fast one of your fellow liberal FREAKS sneaks up behind you and gives you the ride of your life! But then again, you seem like that is what you are into already.....

Ryan Mclean
Ryan Mclean

justin shouldn't you be out playing with your guns in your redneck hellhole cesspool trailer park of milner GA

John Ewing
John Ewing

Will the "dummy" sign it and show the world how dumb he is, but does he care?? NO!!!!!!! After all, he does not have to run again.

James Lake
James Lake

Baby Jesus says economic prosperity is a sin.

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

Some of these idiots would be perfectly happy living in a theocracy.

Scott Hager
Scott Hager

I wish they'd just move to one instead.

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

Corporations should not demand that people live how they say. If they do not want to do business with us unless they force the people to do what they say, they can stay out. America is supposed to be about freedom. Government (and the corporations who really run it) is supposed to serve us not the other way around.

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

The government is not supposed to be about religious whims. I care far more about the unemployment rate and economic viability than I do about your Zombie Jeebus. I can about living people, with families and bills to pay, who will lose their jobs.

Kristyn Penney Boothe
Kristyn Penney Boothe

That freedom you speak about is for everyone. Yes, even people who live and love different that you. Corporations have every right to not do business with a state that passes a law allowing discrimination for anyone.

Jeff Dauby
Jeff Dauby

If making a cake equals participation in a gay marriage. Then doing business in a state with such legislation is participation in hate.

Greg Austin
Greg Austin

Scott Hager or brown, or black, or don't accept that a dude walked on water and another dude made a huge boat and somehow got 2 of each species to walk to the Iraq desert...

Scott Hager
Scott Hager

"America is supposed to be about freedom." Unless you're gay, apparently.

Mearn King
Mearn King

The laws that form the glue holding this country come from the constitution not the bible. Under that constitution every citizen has equal rights. I happen to be a Christian but know not every religious person practices Christianity.

TimeforTea
TimeforTea

No but religious institutions and private citizens both have protections enshrined in the third article of the bill of rights.  GA HB 757 only provides protections for faith based institutions not businesses.  Please read the bill.  No one will be refused service at a business, and ministers / churches / synagogues / mosques / buddhist temples etc.  won't be forced to perform ceremonies or host them that are against their faith.  Most other states and the federal government have such protections.  

TimeforTea
TimeforTea

The law doesn't allow discrimination by businesses period.  GA HB 757 only protects RELIGIOUS institutions and their auxiliaries from being forced to perform or host things that are against their religious beliefs.  No one is going to be refused service by a business by this bill.  It's a lie.  Please read the bill.  Many states and the federal government already have similar protections on the books.

TimeforTea
TimeforTea

Cake baking and business aren't part of GA HB 757.  So the argument being perpetuated is a lie.  The law only protects RELIGIOUS organizations and their auxiliaries from having to perform or host functions that violate their faith.  No one will be discriminated at a place of business.  Businesses aren't included in the legislation.  Period.

TimeforTea
TimeforTea

Have you read the bill?  It doesn't include businesses only religious organizations.  No one will be denied service by a business under this bill, if they do they will be sued and lose.  GA HB 757 only provides protections to RELIGIOUS organizations and their auxiliaries so they won't be sued / lose tax status for refusing to perform or host ceremonies that violate their beliefs.  

UltraElf
UltraElf

@TimeforTea YES! READ THE BILLYOU Oglethorpe Students! IT says RELIGIOUS based. A gay is not going to be refused service at a restaurant or a salon. They will not have Gaying and non Gaying sections. It is only for businesses in the Wedding business. They do not want to be exposed to disgusting immoral behavior.

UltraElf
UltraElf

Jeff, you must be an Oglethorpe student. The participation is delivering the product or service to the event which the business owner deems immoral in their beliefs. If the gay wants to buy a cake and take it with him- no problem.

John Washington
John Washington

"America is supposed to be about freedom. " *Unless you are gay. Or liberal. Or black. Or non-Christian. Or female. Fixed that for you.