Some members of the Georgia business community are reacting to the expanded “religious liberty” bill that made it through the state legislature Wednesday. The “Free Exercise Protection Act,” HB 757, would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to same-sex couples.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau have all come out against the measure. They say it would scare away business and visitors.
Here’s the full statement on the bill from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce:
“The Georgia Chamber of Commerce appreciates the hard work and thoughtful deliberation put into the most recent iteration of House Bill 757, however we remain concerned about the legal and potential economic impact as a result of the bill’s passage.
Like Governor Deal, we agree legislation that would have a discriminatory effect isn’t good for Georgia, our business community or a reflection of who we are as a state. An in-depth, unbiased and thorough legal analysis of this new language to establish what this bill does and does not do is necessary.
This legislation has come a long way, but falls short of offering balanced language, therefore we remain opposed. We look forward to reasoned legal analysis after more time to review the bill.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association. She says her group is opposed to any legislation that makes the state appear unwelcoming.
“Our industry thrives by taking care of people,” she said. “I've never met a restaurateur that wanted to turn away somebody at their restaurant.”
At this point, the bill still needs the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal to become law.
A spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Wednesday that Deal would review the bill in April. In the past, Deal has signaled he would not sign any religious liberty bill that makes discrimination legal.