Georgia has increasingly been recognized as one of the nation’s premier locations for business, a fact evidenced by the longstanding presence of several major multi-national corporations, a booming tech sector and a burgeoning film industry. Indeed, Forbes put the Peach State at number 11 in its 2015 rankings of the “Best States for Business,” an increase of five spots from the previous year.
Interestingly enough, critics are now saying that this decades-in-the making progress could be severely compromised if state lawmakers decide to pass a highly controversial measure.
The controversial measure in question is House Bill 757, which as currently drafted, would allow both individuals and faith-based organizations to refuse service to same-sex couples — both married or unmarried — or decline to follow anti-discrimination measures based on a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.
While supporters of the measure, which passed the state Senate by a 38-14 margin last week, argue that it is nothing more than a “live-and-let-live” measure that will not take anything away from the LGBT community, critics contend that it actually paves the way for impermissible and widespread discrimination.
They also maintain that the bill could have a detrimental impact on both tourism and commerce, potentially costing the state billions of dollars thanks to boycotts and relocations by dissatisfied business owners.
Indeed, businesses both large and small across a host of industries, as well as influential trade groups have spoken out against HB 757. This includes the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, and the Georgia Prospers coalition, which counts Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta and UPS as members.
It should be noted that it remains to be seen whether HB 757 actually becomes law. Indeed, the revised version passed by the Senate must now go back to the state House of Representatives for final approval.
Stay tuned for updates …
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