Since The Supreme Court has decided that marriage equality can be the law of the land, and anti-gay voices also lost their biggest advocate when Antonin Scalia died, it was only a matter of time before the Southeast decided to give up a losing battle and allow gay people to live equally right? Hell no! Republican state legislatures have decided to do what they love and dig their heels in on a losing battle.
Just this last week, North Carolina passed an anti-LGBT law despite massive outcries from people not to do so, and now Georgia is poised to do the same. Their state legislature has already passed their own version of “State Suicide Act” that might as well be called “The Alamo 2.0” for all the harm it will do to Georgia. Beyond the obvious humanitarian aspects, this bill will directly hurt Georgia’s economy—one of the best in the South due to Atlanta’s rise which itself is due to more moderate social positions it’s had to adopt to attract top-talent to the state. The only thing standing in the way: Governor Nathan Deal can veto it, and what if he doesn’t?
The NFL has already threatened that if Georgia passes this bill, they won’t be eligible for another Super Bowl. [Right now, they’re probably due to host one in 2020 or soon afterwards.] And Disney has already threatened to pull production of any future Marvel movies there. Plus, even Tyler Perry has dissed the law. Now, you know if you’re less socially progressive than Disney, the NFL, and Tyler “Go to Church!” Perry then something has gone off the rails. When the NFL has to strong-arm you into being more gay-friendly, that’s bad. What’s next? Chic-Fil-A saying “Hey guys, what’s up with all the homophobia?”
Now that was a brave step on Disney/Marvel’s part, but actually Hollywood can single-handedly kill this bill. Most people may not know—or care—that Georgia actually has the third largest TV/Film industry in America and you may have noticed that Georgia Peach at the end credits of many of your favorite TV shows and movies. A couple weeks back, I saw it at the end of the movie “Triple 9.” Then there is the laundry list of things you’d expect (anything Tyler Perry has done, “The Walking Dead”) and things you wouldn’t (“Archer,” “Vampire Diaries,” and “Devious Maids”). It is a big, big business that employs a lot of people in the state and Georgia has invested heavy infrastructure in maintaining: Turner Broadcasting Networks are based there meaning ESPN, CNN, TNT, TBS, etc.
In short: if Hollywood threatens to pull a significant or all of the stuff currently filming there out of the state, it will be an economic meltdown. Yet the rationale makes perfect sense: how can the most gay-friendly industry in America (and one that is trying hard to appear more inclusive) possibly be one of the biggest industries in a state where the same LGBT community isn’t welcome? It would be like a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic deciding to film on location in Apartheid-era South Africa solely for the tax breaks.
Right now, Hollywood is happy to take advantage of Georgia’s very generous film-tax credits, and Georgia is happy to have a shiny, future-leaning industry. Would one anti-gay law really be worth jeopardizing that for? Especially on a battle you’re sure to lose in the long run?
Georgia should think about that, and if Alabama politicians were even remotely savvy, they’d roll out the welcome mat for any Georgia productions that wanted to jump ship. What is Birmingham if not a cheaper version of Atlanta anyway? And Alabama’s even got a beach, just saying…