More than two dozen entertainment industry leaders — including Anne Hathaway, Rob Reiner, Lee Daniels, Aaron Sorkin, and Seth MacFarlane — have joined in threatening to never work in the state of Georgia again if Gov. Nathan Deal does not veto a religious freedom bill that passed the state Legislature last week.
In an open letter shared by the LGBT advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign, the 38 filmmakers, writers, and actors urged Deal to veto the bill, which they say would “sanction discrimination against LGBT people and others in Georgia.”
“We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law,” the group wrote in the letter.
The group of Hollywood leaders who signed the letter include Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, actresses Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and Kristen Chenoweth, directors Gus Van Sant and James Gunn, and producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
“We urge you to veto H.B. 757 and send a strong message that Georgia will not tolerate discrimination against citizens, employees and visitors to the state,” the letter concludes.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to sign or veto HB 757, officially known as the Free Exercise Protection Act. The bill would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to anyone if serving him or her violates their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It would also require government to provide a “compelling” reason to impede residents’ free exercise of religion. The “compromise” version of the bill, which passed both chambers of the state Legislature last week, also includes a provision that bars all state and federally prohibited discrimination.
Georgia has emerged as one of the top shooting locations for Hollywood studios over the past several years, including for Disney/Marvel, which filmed Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in the state. According to the state of Georgia, nearly 250 films and television shows lensed in the state last year, contributing $1.7 billion in spending and $6 billion in economic impact.
Earlier this week, Disney and its Marvel Studios subsidiary threatened to boycott the state of Georgia if the legislation passed. AMC, Viacom, Turner, and the Weinstein Co. quickly joined in the boycott effort.
A number of major corporations headquartered in Georgia, including Coca-Cola and UPS, have formed a business coalition, Georgia Prospers, to defeat the bill, while the NFL has warned that the legislation could factor into its decisions on where to host future Super Bowl games.