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Time Warner, Others Join Disney In Opposing Georgia's 'Religious Liberty' Bill

The Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel subsidiary threatened Wednesday to stop film production in Georgia if the governor signs a into law — which would be a major blow to the state's burgeoning film industry.

Since then, a range of other companies have joined in opposing the legislation.

The bill allows religious officials and faith-based organizations to deny services when doing so would violate a "sincerely held religious belief." Critics say it enshrines discrimination against gays and lesbians.

As AJC reported, Georgia lawmakers passed the bill earlier this month. Now Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide whether to sign it, and so far he's been tight-lipped about what he plans to do.

"Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law," a Disney spokesman said in a statement.

Time Warner, the parent company of Atlanta-based CNN, said in a statement that it "strongly opposes the discriminatory language and intent of Georgia's pending religious liberty bill, which clearly violates the values and principles of inclusion and ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination." It called on the governor to veto the legislation.

As CNN reports, a number of other companies, such as Apple, Dell, Hilton and Marriott, have come out against the bill.

Human Rights Campaign has compiled tweets from a number of corporations and their leaders here.

AMC Networks, which films its hit show The Walking Dead in Georgia, has also spoken out against the bill.

"As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible," the company said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "We
applaud Governor Deal's leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well."

As Vanity Fair reports, "AMC pulling The Walking Dead could strike an even bigger blow to Georgia" than a Disney boycott. The magazine adds: "In addition to creating local jobs, the hugely popular show has had a massively beneficial impact on the local tourism and housing markets."

Disney is currently shooting Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in Georgia.

The Times explains why Hollywood has rushed to the state:

"Georgia has become a haven for movie and television production because of attractive tax incentives offered to studios that film there. Unlike California's film tax credit program, Georgia's offering is especially enticing because it allows studios and film producers to offset actors' salaries, which can be a major contributor to the cost of productions."

During 2015, the Times reports, "248 film and television productions shot in the Peach State, representing $1.7 billion in spending there, according to a statement last year by the Georgia Department of Economic Development."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy
Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.