On the first day of spring, I had to turn the heat back on after switching over to AC during last week's heat wave. Morning temperatures this week are forecast to be down in the low 30s, just above freezing.
As you may have heard, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 757, one of those so-called “Religious Liberty” bills, earlier this week. The bill allows faith-based organizations or individuals to refuse service to gay couples on religious grounds, and allows such organizations to refuse to hire or retain employees whose “religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” The bill’s supporters are hoping Georgia joins the dozens of states who are sanctioning LGBT discrimination by dressing it up in religious garb.
The good news is that the bill is still not yet law, and Georgia's Republican Governor, Nathan Deal, may listen to the Metro Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, who've said the bill could wind up costing the state $1 to $2 billion in lost revenue, rather than the Christian conservatives who are actually claiming the bill doesn't go far enough.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons are building a new $1.3 billion stadium with the intention not only of hosting home games, but also of luring future Super Bowls to Atlanta. The "Religious Liberty" bill may jeopardize these plans, and the way the guarantees are structured for the new stadium, if it doesn't turn a profit, Georgia taxpayers may wind up paying for the difference.
This may turn out to be a character test for Governor Deal. He's already declared “What the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies’ view of the world,” and “We are not jeopardized, in my opinion, by those who believe differently from us.”
Hopefully, even if his conscience doesn't drive him to do the right thing and refuse to sign the bill, the economic impact may force his decision.