Your Religion is No Excuse for Discrimination

By Sam Allen

This past week a Georgia bill that would have allowed shop owners to deny serving gay and/or transgender customers has been vetoed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The so called “religious freedom bill,” which was approved by Georgia’s legislature on March 17, would allow pastors to refuse to perform same-sex marriage as well as allowing religious organizations to deny jobs, fire and refuse other services to any member of the LGBT community, according to the Los Angeles Times.

I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Governor Deal said of his decision to veto the bill.

Though the Governor vetoed the bill, I’m not so sure that he only had equal rights in mind. As a film major, I have been made aware of the booming film industry in Georgia and Louisiana. Because of their incredible tax breaks and film incentives, many filmmakers are moving their productions out of LA and into these thriving communities. Just to put things into perspective, Ben Affleck is built a fake Ybor City in Georgia instead of shooting it, well … in Ybor, because it of how much the film would save by rebuilding it rather than filming in a place with little to no tax incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Film companies such as AMC, Disney and Marvel threatened to pull out of any projects currently shooting in Georgia if the bill was passed into law. The NFL said the bill would jeopardize the chance for Atlanta to be the host for future Super Bowls, according to BBC News. So when you consider the millions of dollars Georgia stood to lose if their film industry had tanked, I’m not so inclined to believe that the Governor’s veto was only inspired by a genuine desire to protect gays from discrimination.

Recently Senator Mike Crane called for a “special session” in an effort to have Governor Deal’s veto invalidated, according to CNN. CNN also reports that Crane see’s the veto as “an example of how corporations and lobbyists buy influence with ‘the political class.’” The idea that a bill like this could even be approved through Georgia’s legislature is disgusting. I don’t care what your religion is, if it is based on the belief that you should discriminate against people who are different than you, then you need a serious reality check. If you have such hatred for another human being who you don’t even know based on their sexuality alone then you are the one that needs changing, not them. You are giving a bad name to all the religious people who accept others even in spite of differences.

I’m glad that the bill got vetoed, even if it was capitalism that ultimately decided the bill’s fate, rather than the idea that human beings should be treated with dignity and respect. However, I am saddened by the reality of the world we live in. I can’t believe that in the United States, someone can use their religion to restrict the rights of other people. We need to start viewing those that have different values than us as an opportunity to widen our world view and to gain understanding. Not to shut people out who don’t fit into our mold. Last I checked, most religions are dedicated to the idea that we should help the less fortunate and better ourselves in the process. This is not what Jesus would do.

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