Religious Liberty Bill Draws Threats of Corporate, Foundation Boycotts

The California Endowment has sent letters to four Georgia-based corporations warning that it could pull millions of dollars in investments from the state if a controversial "religious liberty" bill becomes law, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Georgia governor Nathan Deal has until May 3 to sign House Bill 757, which was approved last week in the state legislature and would allow Georgians and faith-based organizations in the state to deny services or employment to individuals based on their religious beliefs. In addition to LGBT rights groups, hundreds of corporations have voiced opposition to the so-called "license to discriminate" legislation, including Disney, Marvel Studios, and AMC Networks — key players in the state's fast-growing film and television industry — as well as Apple, Salesforce, and other tech firms, some of which have indicated they would take their business elsewhere if the law is enacted.

In letters (4 pages, PDF) to executives at Delta Air Lines, First Data, HD Supply, and Home Depot — companies in which the foundation holds shares — California Endowment president and CEO Robert K. Ross expressed appreciation for corporations that are "taking a stand against a proposed law we believe is having a negative effect on the business environment and raising serious questions about the advisability of continued and future investments in Georgia."

"We wholeheartedly agree with the characterization of this legislation as discriminatory, bad business and bad for Georgia," the letters further state. "As a health foundation, we are also concerned about the negative implications for the health and safety of employees, customers, and residents of any state enacting laws to allow discrimination against LGBT people."

Greg Bluestein. "Disney Threatens to Boycott Georgia If ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill Becomes Law." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 03/23/2016. Ava Ahmadbeigi. "Georgia House Passes 'License to Discriminate' Bill. Will Governor Deal Veto?." GLAAD Blog Post 03/17/2016.