The publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle wrote Wednesday on the newspaper’s website that a religious liberty proposal under consideration by the General Assembly “threatens to undo so much of the progress our region has made.”
David Rubinger, who was named publisher of the weekly business paper last year, said the giants of Atlanta history—”[l]ast names like Woodruff, Hartsfield, Russel, Abernathy, and King”—would be “appalled” by the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow for persons and non-profits to deny service on the grounds of sincerely held religious beliefs.
Critics of the legislation maintain it will enable discrimination against gays and lesbians, single mothers, unmarried co-habitating couples, and divorced persons.
Already some businesses have said they intend to leave the state in protest, like the Decatur-based telecommunications startup 373k, and some fear that the film and entertainment industry will boycott the state if it is perceived as a discriminatory environment.
“Most Atlanta business and civic leaders believe that this bill should never have gotten to this point,” Rubinger wrote. “Now the business community is rallying to speak as one voice, protecting Atlanta from the potential public relations damage this legislation could have on future business growth, convention business, and sporting events like the Super Bowl.
“If Gov. Nathan Deal and the Speaker of the House David Ralston are unable to untangle this mess that the General Assembly has created, then it is much more than the LGBT community that suffers,” he said. “We will all suffer is business, conventions and major events decide to leave our city over this debate.”
The bill passed the state Senate last week and awaits final consideration by the House of Representatives.