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‘The Walking Dead’ joins fight to stomp religious freedom law; Disney, Marvel vow to stop filming in Georgia

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Disney and “The Walking Dead” have found common ground in opposing a religious liberty bill in the state of Georgia as Hollywood rallies in support of gay rights.

AMC, which films “The Walking Dead” in Georgia, has joined with the Walt Disney Co. and Marvel in calling on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the Free Exercise Protection Act which was passed on March 16 by the state’s legislature, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The legislation “would offer protections to faith-based entities that refuse to provide services that they say violate their beliefs,” the newspaper reported. Services such as clergy being required to perform same-sex marriage. Critics argue the bill is an “anti-gay” measure that promotes discrimination despite the fact that there is specific language disavowing that charge.

“As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible,” AMC said in a statement. “We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.”

The Times noted that the Walt Disney Co. is threatening to no longer film in Georgia if Deal signs the bill into law.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a spokesman for Burbank-based Disney said.

The financial ramifications equate to billions of dollars as Georgia “has become a haven for movie and television production because of attractive tax incentives offered to studios that film there,” the Times reported.

Adding to the cost of taking a stand for religious liberty is that Georgia may lose out on being selected as a site for the Super Bowl.

Fox News reported that the NFL opposes the bill and said if passed, it could have an effect on the Super Bowl selection process for 2019 and 2020 — Atlanta is one of the finalists for the next two title games to be awarded, along with New Orleans, Miami and Tampa.

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

All of which equates to a steep price for religious freedom … but then, America was founded on people willing to pay such a price.

Tom Tillison


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