2016-MAR: A tale of two business groups with very different views on HB 757: Daily Signal and Georgia Prospers:
"Georgia Prospers" is the name of a campaign launched on JAN-06 by a "partnership of business leaders committed to a prosperous Georgia." 1
They strongly oppose the various bills active in the Legislature which would give people and companies the religious freedom to discriminate against others.
Their campaign is currently collecting commitments from Georgia companies, industries, agencies, etc. to sign a written pledge that opposes the discrimination inherent in HB 757 and similar bills. They are approaching 400 signatures by companeis ranging from Arby's to Wells Fargo collected to date.
Their pledge states:
"We believe that treating all Georgians and visitors fairly is essential to maintaining Georgia’s strong brand as the premier home for talented workers, growing businesses, entrepreneurial innovation, and a thriving travel and tourism industry.
We believe that in order for Georgia businesses to compete for top talent, we must have workplaces and communities that are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one’s race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. ..." 2
Arron Gould Sheinin & Kritina Torres, writing for The Atlanta journal Constitution said that if the religious liberty bill becomes law then:
"... the corporate world fears [it] would make an economic pariah of the Peach State. ... The fight over the bill, however, comes on the heels of similar battles in Arkansas, Indiana and elsewhere. Georgia business leaders have already consulted with their Indiana counterparts over the impact of a hotly contested RFRA bill signed into law there last year. ..."
"... the Metro Atlanta Chamber [of Commerce] and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau have separately produced studies that show Atlanta and the state could see a negative economic impact of $1 billion to $2 billion 3 if [another of the 'religious freedom to discriminate' bills] SB 129 passes [unchanged]." 2
Dave Stockert, the CEO of Post Properties said:
"Part of what makes our business climate so appealing is Southern hospitality. [The Georgia Prospers campaign is intended to make] the world … know this is a welcoming state. When people feel welcome they feel at home and more likely to want to live here, more likely to invest here, more likely to open a business here." 2
"The Daily Signal" is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation. Both strongly support HB 757 and similar bills. The Heritage Foundation describes themselves as a national:
"... research and educational institution -- a think tank -- whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." 4
They favor giving individuals, religious institutions, public accommodations, etc. the religious freedom to discriminate against others.
Heritage Foundation scholar Ryan T. Anderson writing for The Daily Signal said that HB 757:
"... would ensure that no state agency discriminates against individuals or institutions for following their convictions about marriage as a man-woman union by revoking, for example, their nonprofit tax-exempt status or denying them government grants, contracts, accreditation, or licenses." 5
Leah Jessen, writing for The Daily Signal, said that:
"More than 400 businesses in Georgia have joined a coalition called 'Georgia Prospers' to fight what advocates call a religious liberty bill protecting First Amendment rights, and what opponents characterize as an attempt to legalize discrimination against same-sex couples. 6
William E. Simon, senior research fellow in American principles and public policy at The Heritage Foundation, wrote:
"This is yet another example of cultural cronyism. ... "
"Businesses in Georgia were always free to embrace gay marriage -- to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages and make floral arrangements for same-sex nuptials -- and many do, but now they want the government to force everyone in Georgia to do the same.
And they’re threatening boycotts, travel bans, and relocations of businesses if the government doesn’t do as they wish. It’s Indiana all over again. ..."
The hypocrisy of big business lobbying against the law is astounding. They want to be free to operate in Georgia according to their values, but they don’t want small-business competitors to be free to operate according to theirs. If all of the major corporations are already in favor of gay marriage, then this religious freedom law poses no threat. It merely protects the rights of those who disagree. ..."
Georgia’s H.B. 757 is a good first step to protecting freedom after the [U.S.] Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage. It is a measured, reasonable, commonsense policy. 6
As of early 2016-MAR, Bill HB 757 was in the House, awaiting a debate and vote. If it is passed. it will go to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal (R) for his signature or veto.
How does one resolve this conflict in which two business groups hold such diametrically opposed views, each certain that their position is correct?
I suggest getting down to fundamentals. Drill down to identify the core problem. It seems to be that some people -- often owners of a small business in the marriage "industry" -- hold sincere personal religious beiefs that would restrict marriage to the voluntary union of one woman and one man. They reject gay marriage and do not wish to sell their goods and services to same-sex engaged couples who are planning to marry.