Atlanta and the Georgia area see a lot of business from Marvel and the wider film industry thanks to generous tax breaks. Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have all filmed in Atlanta, and the city might see more superheroes in the future. It really all comes down, though, to one bill, and whether or not Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, signs it.
At issue is a bill, called the Free Exercise Protection Act, that would, in its own words:
prohibit discriminatory action against a person who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such marriage.
The bill passed the Georgia Legislature with surprising rapidity last week and hit Deal’s desk, where it has sat since. Deal has to choose whether or not to sign it by May.
The uproar was immediate, and the bill is already getting the state in trouble. The NFL has made it clear the Super Bowl won’t be coming to Atlanta if this bill passes, and Georgia-based businesses, and those invested in the state, are preparing to leave. Still, it would be Disney’s departure that would sting the most; Disney spends millions of dollars in the area, and it’s not the only studio that might leave, as the MPAA, the film industry’s key lobbying group, has weighed in against the bill.
The bill itself seems to operate on a fundamental misunderstanding. Craig V. Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Sweet Cakes case took place in Colorado and Oregon, respectively, and were cases that were under the laws of those states. It’s not clear that such a case, if brought in Georgia, would be successful. It seems clear, however, that whatever the intent of Georgia’s lawmakers, it’ll have to weigh the consequences very carefully.