The growing corporate backlash to Georgia's 'religious liberty' bill

Emma Stitt, from left, Megan Harrison, Jessica Reznicek and Lorraine Fontana stand in Sen. Josh McKoon's, R-Columbus, office in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building in protest of the "religious liberty" bill that McKoon is sponsoring. The four were arrested after they were asked to wait in the hallway, but they refused to leave. The protest was part of Moral Monday Georgia. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
Caption
Emma Stitt, from left, Megan Harrison, Jessica Reznicek and Lorraine Fontana stand in Sen. Josh McKoon's, R-Columbus, office in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building in protest of the "religious liberty" bill that McKoon is sponsoring. The four were arrested after they were asked to wait in the hallway, but they refused to leave. The protest was part of Moral Monday Georgia. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Our AJC business colleagues published this lengthy story on metro Atlanta companies raising new concerns about the "religious liberty" bill that passed the Senate earlier this month. It includes this passage:

"Unlike some conventions that have their headquarters outside the cities where they operate, Atlanta is the only home Dragon Con has ever had," the group said. "We have great faith that our state's leaders and legislators will, eventually, do the right thing for all Georgians."

That measure, House Bill 757,

said Monday that the legislation is "a work in progress" as he offered a warning.

"I do not want us to do anything that will be perceived as allowing discrimination in the state of Georgia. That is not who we are as a people. And I don’t think we have to do that in order to give the security that the faith-based community thinks we need. I want to make sure we don’t go out of balance."

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman:

Virgin chief executive Richard Branson:

Dell Inc. founder and chief executive Michael Dell:

And Microsoft president Brad Smith:

Then there was this poll from Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, who took on similar legislation in Indiana:

Supporters of the bill played their own defense over the weekend. From state Sen. Josh McKoon:

ExploreThe AJC's Matt Kempner asked a similar question. 

A Salesforce spokeswoman emailed a statement to the AJC in response: "This discussion is about Georgia, where our local employees have asked us to get involved. We are not alone—more than 400 businesses have joined Georgia Prospers to oppose this bill in its current form. We were encouraged by comments from Governor Deal indicating that the bill is not in its final form. Salesforce believes in equality for all. Equal rights is an important issue, both in the U.S. and around the world, and we do whatever we can to protect our employees and customers from discrimination."

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