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LGBT Rights Laws: Georgia Gov. Deal Vetoes HB 757 After California Puts on the Pressure

On Wednesday, March 16, the Georgia House approved changes to HB 757, a bill that would have protected opponents of same-sex marriage, and offered less civil and employee protections to the LGBTQ community. The changes in the bill would have allowed people to lawfully decline performing same-sex marriages, prevent government burden of religious belief and would have even made it lawful for Georgia employers to refuse jobs to workers because of their sexual orientation.

The bill's ban on anti-discrimination protections prompted a slew of California's biggest tech companies and politicians to urge Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to do the right thing by vetoing the bill. A few days later, after feeling the heat, Deal decided to veto HB 757.

On Wednesday, March 16, the Georgia House approved changes to HB 757, a bill that would have protected opponents of same-sex marriage, and offered less civil and employee protections to the LGBTQ community. The changes in the bill would have allowed people to lawfully decline performing same-sex marriages, prevent government burden of religious belief and would have even made it lawful for Georgia employers to refuse jobs to workers because of their sexual orientation.

The bill's ban on anti-discrimination protections prompted a slew of California's biggest tech companies and politicians to urge Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to do the right thing by vetoing the bill. A few days later, after feeling the heat, Deal decided to veto HB 757.

California-Based Companies Threatened to Relocate Offices and Staff Outside of Georgia

San Francisco cloud computing company, Salesforce said they wouldn't continue to do business in Georgia if the law had passed."The legislation creates an environment of discrimination and makes the state of Georgia seem unwelcoming to same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community," Salesforce said in a statement. "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."

Los Gatos video-streaming service, Netflix, a company that has shot numerous films in Georgia chimed in along with other major Hollywood companies in saying they would have also taken their business to other states if the bill had gone into effect. Netflix said in a statement that they are an "inclusive company [...] We recently completed two films and a series in Georgia and had planned on filming two series there in the coming months. Should any legislation allowing discriminatory practice be signed into state law, we will move our productions elsewhere."

In addition to Netflix and Salesforce, Silicon Valley tech companies (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, PayPal, Google, IBM, Microsoft, etc.) also condemned HB 757, plus urged North Carolina to reject LGBTQ discrimination in its own state after the passage of its statewide law that blocks local governments from passing LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections.

California Politicians Urged Georgia to Offer More LGBTQ Protections, Not Less

Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco stated that the city will continue to "join with businesses and others to put economic and political pressure on these state governments that are doing the wrong thing." In addition to that, Lee stated that if HB 757 had been enacted, he would have also directed the city to not pay for travel to Georgia. San Francisco had previously done this with North Carolina.

In February, Assemblyman Evan Low, D-San Jose introduced a bill that would also ban the state of California from providing travel funds to states that have anti-LGBT rights laws.

A supporter of Low's bill, San Francisco Supervisor, Scott Wiener said in a statement, "San Francisco taxpayer dollars should not be funding travel to or spending in states that relegate LGBT people to second-class status," and that "A despicable wave of anti-LGBT hate is rolling over parts of the South and Midwest [...] We must take firm action to push back against this government-sanctioned hatred."

Threats of this nature toward states that pass discriminatory legislation against LGBTQ people aren't new to California politicians or San Francisco businesses. In fact, just last year Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, pressured Indiana to amend legislation that allowed faith-based organizations to refuse services to LGBTQ people.

And just like Gov. Deal, Indiana lawmakers heard the message loud and clear; eventually amending the law.

Article adapted from Salesforce, Netflix lead Silicon Valley charge against anti-LGBT laws via SFGate.com

Read full text of HB 757

If you feel you are a victim of sexual orientation discrimination in California, your employer may be violating both civil rights and employment laws. Contact our passionate California sexual orientation discrimination attorneys for a free consultation today.

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