The first casualty of Georgia’s House Bill 757, the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, is a global business in the telecom industry that is based in Decatur, according to The New Civil Rights Movement, The firm is 373K, and it announced the move via Twitter.
— 373K, Inc. (@373KInc) February 19, 2016
HB757 provides legal protection to individuals and corporations that discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples across the state, including the Ku Klux Klan.
This license to discriminate bill passed easily Friday, by a vote of 38-14. And this week, it goes to the House, where an earlier version of the measure sailed through. And even though there’s been no official declaration by the Republican governor, it’s likely Nathan Deal will sign it into law.
Co-founder Kelvin Williams told The New Civil Rights Movement, “we don’t tolerate that crap.”
“I’m gay, our CFO is gay, we have people from every walk of life working here,” co-founder Kelvin Williams told TMCRM. “I’ve got Muslims, Buddhists, atheists here. We’ve got great Christians working for us. They’ve never thought of not serving anyone – that’s not the message of Christ.”
And as for the measure itself, Williams called it “not conducive for Georgia," where according to him, "business environment in the state is not that great anyway."
Georgia is home to some very big name in the corporate world, including the Coca-Cola Company, Cable News Network, Home Depot, United Parcel Service, Delta Airlines and Aflac.
"It's sad our state government wants to take us back in time," said Williams. "If you're not a white married Christian heterosexual, prepare to be persecuted," he warned, announcing "I wish Georgia would wake up” and he added a call for Coca-Cola to follow suit and denounce the legislation. Hundreds of top corporations that are based in and or do business in the state have signed the Georgia Prospers pledge:
"We believe that in order for Georgia businesses to compete for top talent, we must have workplaces and communities that are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one’s race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity."
The debate over this religious freedom reform act is similar in many ways to what happened a year ago in Indiana. Gov. Mike Pence’s signing of the that RFRA sparked swift retribution from a global cloud computing company, Salesforce, as well as expressions of concern from Apple, Eli Lilly, the NBA, NCAA, NASCAR and more.
Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Stephen King, Audra McDonald, Bill Maher, Ashton Kutcher, and others and religious organizations including the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church [USA], the Sikh Coalition, the Islamic Society of North America, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism spoke out against the law.
And a long list of governors and mayors barred civic employees from taking any official business trips to the state. Even though Pence signed a “fix” meant to revise the original law, Indiana lost an estimated $60 million in business as a result of all the negative publicity.
A petition organized to show support for Georgia's LGBT population has so far received more than 5,000 signatures.