Telecom company 373K, Inc. announced on Twitter that they would be leaving Georgia and taking their tax dollars with them after the passage of HB 757, a sweeping anti-gay rights bill.
— 373K, Inc. (@373KInc) February 19, 2016
The entire text of HB 757 can be read here, but in summary, it allows for discrimination against LGBTQ citizens in a way that reduces the protection of their rights to less than nothing.
“To protect religious freedoms…relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion…to protect property owners which are religious organizations against infringement of religious freedom…so as to prohibit adverse action by government against a person or faith-based organization who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with certain sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage…”
The GOP-sponsored legislation passed a GOP-led House on February 19th after even more legislation to marginalize LGBTQ citizens was added. The bill has not yet been signed by Governor Nathan Deal (R). Republican State Senator Greg Kirk, who was the chief sponsor of the bill, says it does not infringe on anyone’s rights, nor will it cause any Georgia citizen any harm.
“This bill protects the constitutional rights of individuals and faith-based organizations…It takes nothing away from same-sex couples or members of the LGBT community….It is a live-and-let-live bill.”
Critics of the bill, however, argue that this is a ridiculous assertion. Protect Thy Neighbor, a group which describes itself as “a project of Americans united for separation of church and state,” says that:
“The new bill is pretty terrible. In short, it allows any individual or “faith-based” business, non-profit entity, or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage. This bill would cause real harm to real people and would (ironically) violate the Free Speech and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Thus, any person, business, or taxpayer-funded organization could refuse anyone else rights, services, and benefits because they are part of an interracial couple; are part of an interfaith couple; are a single mother; are part of a same-sex couple; are divorced; are remarried; live or have lived with a partner without being married; or have had sex outside of marriage at any time in their life.”
373K, Inc. already knows what the consequences of this legislation will be and they aren’t hanging around for it. The company is taking a stand against discrimination and relocating their headquarters in light of the bill. In a stark reminder of how hate is NOT a Christian virtue, the company discussed their upcoming move and continued to express their disappointment with the passage of the bill on Twitter with customers and supporters throughout the evening.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” — Jesus https://t.co/N8TvGg6KFI
— 373K, Inc. (@373KInc) February 21, 2016
If only more companies would take a stand and remove their tax dollars from states where bills like these are passed, the consequences of hate may finally deter lawmakers from allowing hate legislation to be the laws of their lands.