Marvel Studios and its parent company Walt Disney Co. threatened Georgia Wednesday to take business elsewhere if the state passes the religious liberty bill that would allow officials to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. AMC Networks, the makers of “The Walking Dead,” and Viacom Inc. have also joined the protest by urging Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to revise the bill.
“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 Wednesday, according to Variety.com.
An AMC Networks spokesman reportedly said that the company “believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible,” requesting Deal to dismiss the bill. On a similar note, Viacom asked the Georgia governor to “resist and reject the patently discriminatory laws being proposed.”
Last Wednesday, Georgia lawmakers passed the religious liberty bill. If brought into law, the bill would permit faith-based organizations such as churches, religious schools or associations to deny holding events for people or groups who violate their religious beliefs. Faith-based groups would also be given power to deny employment to a worker whose beliefs go against the organization’s idea. Deal will have until May 3 to decide on the bill.
“Shockingly, the decision by the legislature today was to make an egregious and discriminatory bill even worse. It's appalling that anti-equality extremists in the legislature are trying to ignore the will of the people of Georgia, and to empower businesses with the explicit right to discriminate and deny service to LGBT Americans,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said last Wednesday, in a statement.
The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents major Hollywood studios, has also opposed the bill. Earlier this month, the National Football League also warned that if the legislation is passed, it would scrap the plans of having Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2018 or 2019.
Georgia’s attractive tax incentives have made the state a film-making hub. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” is currently being shot at Pinewood Studios near Atlanta and the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War” was shot in Georgia last year.
About 248 movies and television series, including “The Walking Dead” and Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” were produced in Georgia until July 2015. The productions resulted in an estimated $1.7 billion being spent on the local economy, the Telegraph reported.
Companies that have headquarters in the state such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot and UPS have also opposed the religious liberty bill.