Georgia’s business community is taking swift action after HB 757—the License to Discriminate legislation—passed out of the General Assembly Wednesday after a surprise vote.
Businesses and business groups have been warning for months that they will have to re-asses their relationship with the state if it passes a religious exemption bill like HB 757. Now that the bill has advanced to Governor Deal’s desk, businesses are hardening their resolve—and the pressure mounts for the Governor to follow through on his promises to reject this legislation and protect the state from serious economic harm.
After Tuesday’s vote, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff—one of bill’s most vocal opponents—reiterated his plan to relocate Salesforce’s Georgia-based offices if the state passes a license to discriminate. Salesforce’s corporate leadership released a longer statement this morning:
“If HB 757 is not vetoed and instead becomes law, Salesforce will have to reduce investments in Georgia, including moving the Salesforce Connections conference to a state that provides a more welcoming environment for the LGBTQ community.”
Co-founder of The Home Depot, Bernie Marcus, issued a strong statement against HB 757 last week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta-based Home Depot is a Fortune 500 company and employs more than a quarter million people.
Dow Chemical’s public policy VP Kevin Kolevar and Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich and have also signaled their opposition to the bill and urged Governor Nathan Deal to reject it.
— Brian Krzanich (@bkrunner) March 17, 2016
— Dow Public Policy (@DowPolicy) March 17, 2016
Other tech companies like Apple and Mailchimp—companies that drive Georgia’s economic future—condemned the bill as well.
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) March 18, 2016
Mailchimp is based in Atlanta and has more than 10,000 customers nationwide:
“We strongly oppose the discriminatory legislation that recently passed in Georgia, and we join the voices in our community calling for equality. We appreciate Gov. Deal’s leadership on this issue, and we agree with him that our state should be open and inclusive to all. We respectfully ask him to veto House Bill 757.”
The Metro Atlanta and Georgia chambers of commerce both shared concerns about the impact HB 757 would have on Georgia’s designation as a top state for business. They predicted billions in economic losses if a discriminatory religious exemption bill passed. In an official statement, the Metro Atlanta chamber reiterates its warning:
“This legislation is in conflict with the values of diversity and inclusion that Georgians hold dear and could erode Georgia’s hard-earned status as the No. 1 state for business — and would harm our ability to create and keep jobs that Georgia families depend upon. We agree with Governor Deal that allowing discrimination isn’t a proper reflection of who we are and echo his call for unity and inclusion. We deeply appreciate the Governor’s deliberation on this very important issue, and respectfully ask him to maintain this view while considering this legislation.”
And the current backlash is only the beginning. Hundreds of other businesses have denounced state-sanctioned discrimination, including nearly 500 companies that have joined Georgia Prospers, a coalition making the business case for inclusion and diversity as cornerstones for economic prosperity.
If the obvious negative economic consequences of enacting this License to Discriminate don’t make Governor Deal’s choice clear, consider that in addition to such resounding backlash from businesses, this bill received bi-partisan opposition in both chambers. Eleven GOP members joined with Democrats on Tuesday in voting against HB 757, including Beth Beskin, Rich Golick, Gerald Greene, Chuck Martin, BJ Pak, Allen Peake, John Pezold, Tom Taylor, Joe Wilkinson, Chuck Williams and Rusty Kidd in the House and Jenice Van Ness. In the Senate. Rep. Peake had an especially personal reason to vote “nay”:
I voted no, because my gay brother asked me to https://t.co/UDRGAYuF3X
— Allen Peake (@AllenPeake) March 16, 2016
Other conservative voices have come out strongly against HB 757, including a group of young conservatives called Georgia Republicans for the Future and a former U.S. Department of Justice Official under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Despite this opposition, the House voted to advance the heinous anti-LGBT bill by 104-65, and the Senate approved it by a shameful majority up/down vote.SHARE THIS STORY