Conservatives plan boycott of companies that blocked religious freedom bill

Conservatives vowed to boycott at least five major companies based in Georgia for their roles in killing legislation opponents say would have allowed private businesses to decline on religious grounds to serve people they believe are gay or having premarital sex.

Supporters of the legislation gathered in a third-floor hallway at the Capitol to discuss their plans since Senate Bill 377 failed to pass a critical hurdle. Monday is Crossover Day, which means any legislation that has not passed at least one chamber of the General Assembly typically will not be approved this year, and SB 377 was not put on the Senate’s calendar for a vote.

“This is going to hurt the (Republican) ticket in November,” said Debbie Dooley with the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots. “They (legislators) chose to go where the money is.”

Supporters of the bill specifically blamed the Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines, Home Depot, InterContinental Hotels and UPS for its failure. Those companies had come out against the bill, claiming such a law would hurt business and cost jobs.

“I will not fly Delta again,” Dooley said. “This bill has nothing to do with discrimination. People are livid over this, and this will have repercussions in November.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, said he would spend the months until the Legislature meets in 2015 educating Georgians about the bill. He said it had been misunderstood.

“The only discrimination going on in this state is against people of faith,” McKoon said.

He called SB 377 a “common-sense bill that protected the religious liberties” that had fallen victims to “base politics.”

But Julianne Thompson of the Capitol Coalition of Conservative Leaders said her group and its allies will not wait until next year.

“We plan a statewide, if not nationwide, boycott,” Thompson said, naming the companies they blamed for the bill’s failure.

“I’m not willing to wait until next year,” said Kay Godwin with Georgia Conservatives in Action. “There’s so much damage that can be done. I don’t know if it can be repaired.”

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