Corporate Pressure Forces Georgia Governor to Veto Anti-LGBT Law

By Frank Kineavy

Bowing to pressure from various U.S. corporations, including a handful of DiversityInc Top 50 companies, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal this morning announced he plans to veto a proposed “anti-LGBT” bill.

Deal was expected to sign the bill on May 3. Last week, companies pressured the governor to rethink the proposed bill, threatening to take their business elsewhere.

Five companies on the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list pledged their support to the LGBT community by opposing the law. Marriott International (No. 13), IBM (No. 22), The Walt Disney Company (No. 34), Time Warner (No. 41) and Verizon Communications (No. 50) last week all spoke out against the bill.

The Georgia bill would allow religious groups to deny service to the LGBT community. It came on the heals of an anti-LGBT law passed last week in North Carolina forbidding transgender people from using public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities and preventing cities from banning the discrimination of LGBT individuals.

The Walt Disney Company, which produces most of its Marvel films in the Peach State, has threatened to take its productions elsewhere unless the bill is vetoed. “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,” the company said in a statement.

Time Warner, which employs thousands of people at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, also released a strongly worded statement: “We strongly oppose the discriminatory language and intent of Georgia’s pending religious-liberty bill, which clearly violates the values and principles of inclusion and the ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination.”

Sports governing bodies including the NBA, NFL and the NCAA, who all are scheduled to have flagship events in the state, have also joined forces in opposing the bill.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, IBM, on of the state’s largest employers, attacked Gov. Pat McCrory for passing his state’s bill. “This measure will reduce, rather than expand, the scope of anti-discrimination protection in the state,” the company said.

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