A battle is brewing between the big budget behemoth that is Hollywood and its favorite east coast shooting locale, the state of Georgia, over several proposed religious liberty bills that are currently gaining favor in the state’s government.
The eight pieces of legislation that are being considered would allow for businesses within the state to deny services to men or women who identify as gay or lesbian, citing a religion-based objection to their lifestyle. In some instances, these proposed laws could even go so far as to deny services to single mothers, an abomination of the legislative process if there ever was one.
Now Hollywood is weighing in after Friday, February 17th, when two such bills were combined and passed through the state house, and await final approval from the state senate.
Why is the film industry involved?
The same legislative bodies that are proposing the religious liberty-based bills had previously reworked the Georgia tax code to be incredibly beneficial to the filming of television and motion pictures. This, in turn, has created an absolutely massive economic impact in Georgia. Some figures estimate that from 2008, (when the tax credits went into effect), to 2015, the film industry’s contribution the local economy grew from $260 million to $6 billion.
Last week, when these new proposals suddenly grew legs and sprinted through the state house, companies involved in the film industry’s southeastern outpost balked at the news. Now the word around the industry (and in Atlanta) is that Hollywood will organize a boycott of Georgia if the state passes laws protecting religious freedom.
Brain Tolleson, from Atlanta-based entertainment firm Bark Bark, recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “They will boycott coming to shoot anything here.”
If Hollywood decides that shuttering Y’all-ywood is the only way to address what they see as an attack on the homosexual community, as many as 22,000 Georgians could lose their jobs, and another 77,000 film industry jobs could also be affected.
While we consider Georgia to be the epitome of the “New South,” proposals such as this fly directly in the face of Atlanta, the state’s capitol, (and the south’s capitol by all measurements), birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and “the city too busy to hate.”