The severe economic consequences, should the Georgia legislature go forward with the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, are already beginning to play out.
Over the weekend, the American Studies Association (ASA) announced it is suspending its bid to hold their 2018 annual meeting in Atlanta over concerns that the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will lead to discrimination against marginalized groups on the basis of religious beliefs. Should the bill pass, the ASA will remove their bid entirely.
As the largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history in a global context, the ASA boasts a membership of more than 5 thousand worldwide. Their annual convention is expected to bring in $1.4 million to the Georgia economy, through airfare, hotels, food, and other services provided to the attendees during the meeting. But if the ASA goes through with their announcement to not host their meeting in Georgia should the state legislature pass RFRA, this would stand to be a huge loss of revenue to the state.
In a statement, the ASA highlights just some of the concerning pieces of RFRA which has caused the non-profit to re-think holding their annual convention in Atlanta.
“Georgia’s SB 129 would allow individuals and corporations to discriminate against marginalized groups on the basis of religious beliefs. In the name of religious freedom, this legislation would justify the refusal of services to Muslim and LGBT communities and their members. As critics have pointed out, this legislation could also be mobilized to defend those who inflict violence and abuse upon family members or community members by suggesting these actions reflect their deeply held religious beliefs.”
Refusing to hold their conference in the state of Georgia is in line with the organization’s stated goals of fostering an open and welcoming place for debate.
“The ASA has evolved into one of the leading scholarly organizations known for taking action in the worlds of politics and policy to create and defend conditions for open debate and the pursuit of meaningful, engaged scholarship and teaching. Given the ASA’s commitment to social justice, the Executive Committee of the ASA strongly condemns the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 129).”
The ASA is not alone. In Indiana, which passed a similar RFRA bill earlier this week, the state stands to lose upwards of $50 million after Gen-Con—the largest annual convention in Indianapolis—announced that they would not host their convention in the state if Indiana Governor Pence does not veto the bill.
Given these recent developments, it’s concerning that our elected leaders are continuing to push for this same “license to discriminate” law which will harm the economic well-being of our state.SHARE THIS STORY