Disney, Marvel to boycott Georgia if anti-LGBT bill adopted

ByTim Rearden KABC logo
Thursday, March 24, 2016
avengers age of ultron
Chris Evans, left, as Captain America/Steve Rogers, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in a scene of the new film, "Avengers: Age Of Ultron."
wabc-Jay Maidment/Disney/Marvel via AP

LOS ANGELES -- Disney and Marvel will boycott the state of Georgia if it passes a controversial bill that several civil rights group said would open the door for discrimination against the LGBT community.

House Bill 757, known as the "Free Exercise Protection Act," would make it legal for businesses to refuse services to customers over the issue of same-sex marriage.

The bill is also known as the "Pastor Protection Act," because it would allow religious organizations the right to refuse marriage ceremonies "in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion."

The bill passed the Georgia House and Senate on March 16 and Governor Nathan Deal has until May 3 to sign or veto the bill.

If Gov. Deal signs the bill into law, Disney and Marvel Studios said they would take their business elsewhere.

"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 spokesperson said in a written statement.

Several civil rights groups, including Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, have condemned the bill.

"We applaud Disney and Marvel for standing up for fairness and equality by sending a strong warning to Governor Deal," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a written statement. "It's appalling that anti-LGBT activists in Georgia are trying to pass legislation creating an explicit right to discriminate against LGBT Americans. We urge other studios, major corporations, and fair-minded Georgians to continue speaking out and urging Gov. Deal to veto this heinous piece of legislation sitting on his desk."

"Disney is demonstrating its values and leadership by condemning Georgia's 'license to discriminate' bill," GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a written statement. "Disney is the first studio to speak out, but not the last. Now, Governor Deal needs to demonstrate his leadership by vetoing a law that would harm not only LGBT Georgians, but the growing entertainment industry that supports Georgia's economy."

Georgia has used several tax-incentives to bring several big-time productions to its state, including many Marvel superhero movies and AMC's hit TV show "The Walking Dead."

According to the Georgia government, at least 248 film and television productions were shot in the state and generated an economic impact of $6 billion in 2015.

The NFL also recently announced if the bill were signed into law, Atlanta would be in jeopardy of losing its potential to host a Super Bowl.

Indiana received similar backlash when it passed Senate Bill 101, known as the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

After several organizations, including the NCAA, Apple and Subaru announced they would boycott Indiana, legislatures issued a bill acting as an amendment to protect the rights of the LGBT community.

Those in support of HB 757, such as the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, applauded the work of the Georgia legislature and urged Gov. Deal to sign it into law.

After the bill was sent to Gov. Deal's desk on March 16, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board wrote in part on its Facebook page, "The Georgia Baptist Mission Board applauds the cooperative efforts of Speaker Ralston, Lt. Gov. Cagle, and the leadership of both the House and Senate, in working together for the purpose of expanding religious freedom in our state."

Gov. Deal has yet to announce whether he would sign or veto the bill, but earlier in 2016, the Republican said he'd reject any bill that "allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith."

Disney is the parent company of ABC11