Georgia legislators step in it, could lose Super Bowl, other events

AUGUST 24, 2015 ATLANTA Arthur Blank reveals the stadium name during the press conference. Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank and Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of MBUSA, hold a press conference announcing a deal for the naming rights for the New Falcons Stadium, Monday, August 24, 2015. The press conference was also attended by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The agreement, which continues through 2042, includes official naming rights and other partnership benefits. The Mercedes-Benz brand will be prominent inside and outside the building, including on the roof; in plaza areas; on directional, on-field and tunnel signage; in club areas; in VIP parking and entrance areas; on the first-of-its-kind video halo board; and in additional areas. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects the city to land multiple Super Bowls in the team’s new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2017, but could the “religious liberty” bill get in the way of that if it becomes law? (Kent D. Johnson / kdjohnson@ajc.com)

When Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal considers whether to block the contentious “religious liberty” bill, which effectively legalizes discrimination, he might want to consider something: Passage of House Bill 757 also likely means the city of Atlanta will not be given a Super Bowl any time soon, if ever.

That was made clear Friday when the NFL responded to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution query on whether the league had any position on the potential Georgia law.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy responded with this statement: “NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. 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.”

Some statements require you to read between the lines.

Not that one.

The sports and political worlds often collide, as much as sports fans sometimes would prefer they don’t. Sports often has been at the forefront of social change, and I see nothing wrong with that or any athlete, team or league using their platform to push for what they believe is right.

The NFL wasn’t the only league to come out with a strong statement. Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the Braves and the Hawks also responded to AJC’s request for comment. (It’s worth noting the Falcons recently suffered national embarrassment when it was learned one of their assistant coaches asked a draft prospect, “Do you like men?”

• From Blank, who stands to lose a lot if he can’t hold major events like the Super Bowl in his new stadium in 2017: “One of my bedrock values is ‘Include Everyone’ and it’s a principle we embrace and strive to live each and every day with my family and our associates, a vast majority of which live and work in Georgia. I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer. House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”

From the Braves organization: “The Atlanta Braves organization believes that House Bill 757  is detrimental to our community and bad for Georgia.  Our organization believes in an environment that is inclusive of all people. In addition to allowing discrimination against citizens of this state, the bill will have a profoundly negative impact on our organization. As a Georgia business and employer, we proudly support Georgia Prospers in its goal to ensure that the state’s workplaces and communities 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.  We are proud to represent Georgia and are opposed to any law that endorses discrimination against anyone.”

• From the Hawks’ organization: “For generations, Atlanta has stood at the forefront of civil rights and its diversity is what has made this city a cultural leader in the Southeast. The Hawks strongly believe in the values of inclusion, diversity and equal rights, core principles by which we operate our business and are essential elements in making Atlanta a leading global city.”

The NCAA, which controls the site of the Final Four, also released a statement Friday night, saying in part it will “monitor current events, which include issues surrounding diversity, in all cities bidding on NCAA championships and events, as well as cities that have already been named as future host sites. Our commitment to the fair treatment of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has not changed and is at the core of our NCAA values.  It is our expectation that all people will be welcomed and treated with respect in cities that host our NCAA championships and events.”

A loss of major sports events or a potential major hit to the economy shouldn’t be the main reason this legislation is shot down. But it’s a cold reality that some in the Georgia house may not have fully realized until now.

There is precedent for the league stripping a Super Bowl from a city for decisions in the political world. The Super Bowl following the 1992 season between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills was scheduled to be held at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. But the game was moved to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., because Arizona did not recognize the Martin Luther King holiday at the time.

Arizona might also have lost the right to host the Super Bowl following the 2014 season (February of 2015) when the state passed SB 1062, which was similar to Georgia legislation. The law was heavily criticized by civil rights groups, local businesses and the LGBT community and eventually was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer in February of 2014 — one year before the Super Bowl.

The NFL’s only official statement at the time was that it was “following the issue.” But Sports Illustrated reported that the league was considering moving the game to Tampa (the runner-up in the bid process) on short notice.

This is only the beginning.

Whether you agree with the legislation or not — and I don’t — there would be severe economic repercussions if this law passes. The three professional sports league — the NFL, Major League Baseball and NBA — all would balk at putting major events here, as possibly would the NCAA. Blank likely could say goodbye to the Final Four and other centerpiece events, too. Conventions likely would follow suit.

Georgia has stepped in it, whether those under the Gold Dome want to admit that or not.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

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121 comments
mark3367
mark3367

I don't care about the super bowl. I think football shouldn't dictate legislation. I surely would not want a cake made for me by someone who hates me. I can't imagine how much snot goes in a hate cake. I go in places where they discriminate and leave. Arthur Blank should worry about his offense and defense. He should be happy with his $35000.00 dollar psl.

drewK
drewK

Most legislative members who craft these yahoo-bible-belt bills live far outside of Atlanta. I doubt they would embrace anything proactive. Heck, I bet they would ban the internet if they thought it was the devils doing. They could care less if Atlanta loses - anything. Eventually these dinosaurs will die out...just not anytime soon.

edubb
edubb

This dinosaur is alive and well. Yes many could care less if Atlanta loses the Super Bowl and if you had any values so would you. We have had the Olympics and seen the economic cost to Atlanta and the state. Remember we are not talking race or color we are talking core values and marrying or providing services to an event that goes against a persons core values should be their right not something they have to do or face prosecution. Even from a non religious point I would believe one should be able to deny services for an event that goes against their personal values. For me entering another mans rectum for pleasure is not an act I care to condone!

OH:IO
OH:IO

Schultz is in hog heaven.


Liberalism and Sports in the same column. 


bug64
bug64

Forget the Super Bowl! Just another government subsidized waste of money with no net benefit to the city of Atlanta! Let them all go to San Francisco!

metitotktodd
metitotktodd

Conservatives have really destroyed Georgia as well as the rest of the country with their religious BS. They always exploit religion as an excuse to hate on anyone who isn't a Christian white hetersexual male in the top 1%. Is this what they teach those Christians in church. Screw religion and screw the conservatives who exploit religion as an excuse to do absolutely nothing but appeal to the extremists who have destroyed this country.

h8terdelibs
h8terdelibs

And yet another dimwit ajc blogger/journalist/leftist writes an opposition article to the STFU gayt@rds bill that will result in the lose of absolutely zero business.  That's right libs, lefties, pillow biters and similar ilk; it will result in the loss of net zero big business (sure some pretend IT company run by a pillow biter might leave, but he's already been long forgotten with his soon to fail startup).  You see simpletons, money talks and your gay whiny blog posts about the loss of businesses and events are just that.  Remember how the Chick-Fil-A boycott worked out for you?  No?  They saw an uptick in business as a reminder.


These events and corporations will posture in the name of being PC, but if the bill is signed as it should be, then you will hear nothing but gays and libs whining for a week or so and that's it.  


However, I might add, if all you lovers of everything gay want to leave town we could use the reduction in traffic.  Oh wait, loosing 0.03 percent of the metro pop will have zero affect.  Leave anyway.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Leviticus 18:22 "Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin." (NLT)

Leviticus 20:13  "If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense." (NLT)

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."( NLT)

1 Timothy 1:8-10 "Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine ... "(ESV)

Whether it be in The Old Testament or The New Testament, God said it and I believe it!  

Or you can believe Jeff Schultz!

oldgrumpyguy
oldgrumpyguy

@RangeRover Matthew 7:1,2- Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured unto you. 


Luke 6:37- Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 


I think you skipped those two verses. 

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Believing that marriage, in a religious sense, is an institution established by God that is only legitimate if entered into by a man and a woman is not bigotry. But this is how it goes on the Left. They are either purposefully misinterpreting plain language that has had the same meaning for centuries in order to serve their agenda, or trying to limit or prevent conservative free speech whenever and however they can. Nasty name calling and just forcefully shutting up the people with whom they disagree is preferable, but the nation has not rotted to the point where they can do that . . . yet. But, they are working on it.


For example. If you are opposed to just allowing people from other nations to just walk into America, sign up for all of the bennies, set up shop, start families, and then just live here for as long as they want, there was a time when you would be considered opposed to illegal immigration. Not an incredible or unreasonable or unlawful stance for citizens of a sovereign nation to take. Mexico is a good example of that, as America once was many many years ago. Mexico protects its own sovereignty very fiercely.


But today, some how - it's a real mystery how - the Left, liberals, Dems, Lamestream media, etc. never use the word "illegal" when applying to illegal immigrants. And, yes, as the Left is want to do when hearing something or a truth they don't like, they came up with a euphemism ("undocumented" instead of "illegal"), but that word is now rarely uttered. Today, if you support American law and sovereignty, you are now a "hater" an "anti-immigrant/anti-immigration," a nativist, a bigot, a racist, an "immigrant-phobe" - still waiting for that one. And that is just how things have become. 



Totalitarianism actually comes from the Left, not from the Right. The first targets are gun ownership, the free press, freedom of speech, and religion. But that is another whole discussion. In the world where Bernie Sanders and those with support him want to take us, people will not voluntarily and peacefully live that way, and the government has to take absolute power and control all aspects of life. There are lots of old and also current examples of that which can be researched. Being a Lefty or Dem/Lib, or a Socialist, etc. these days in America is not a bad thing, and their star is rising. You get to have your cake and eat it too. There are good examples historical examples of this too. 


That is because of all the American laws, social mores, religious standards, beliefs, obeying the law, respecting authority, freedom of religion and freedom of speech and the press, etc. all of that still protect them and allows this double identity. It never crosses their tiny minds that if they can misinterpret and exploit everything you say, shut you up, close down a newspaper, take you guns, call you names, etc. they day will come when someone will also be able to do that to them. It's kind of like giving the mean kids a piece of your mind with your Mom and Dad standing right behind you. But then, Mom and Dad have to go back inside. Uh-oh. 


One day when Mom and Dad are gone, and the America they hate so much is gone, and they will understand what totalitarianism, hate, and  really is.





mar1049
mar1049

If the bill goes into effect, how about on Superbowl Sunday, all the supporters get together in the new stadium with their bibles, guns and confederate flags and have a good ole southern heritage rally. This would show the rest of the country how serious the people of Georgia are when it comes to not being tolerant of other people. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

They CREATED the poop, then stepped in it. It remains to be seen if they will wipe their feet or rub it all over their faces.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

A few things I feel get lost in this conversation:


1. Churches and clergy are already protected by both the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions from performing ceremonies that conflict with their beliefs. Therefore those sections of this law are redundant and a waste of time, paper, and money.


2. Georgia is one of 29 states that does not specifically protect gay people from discrimination in housing or employment. Local communities can enact their own anti-discrimination legislation, and have, but this bill would override the will of those local communities in favor of a state mandate that any person or business can refuse work, housing, and services to anyone they wish if they have a "spiritual" motive to do so. Specifically, the lifestyle and sexual habits of the applicant in the eyes of the employer or business. This language is redundant as a matter of state policy, but it also eliminates the autonomy of local governments to oversee their communities. Not exactly a small government proposal.


3. This is a politicians bill. Who can be against Religious Liberty? Hardly anyone. It's intent is to subvert by deception the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage. It provides zero protections for religious organizations that were not already codified in law. It's entire purpose is to subvert ongoing civil rights advances by LGBT people. The rhetoric on this is either knowingly blind or outright disingenuous.


4. You know you might be on the wrong side of an issue when even the NFL (Ray Rice, anyone) is saying you've gone too far.

bravee1
bravee1

@JeffSchultzAJC Make no mistake that those idiots down at the Gold Dome won't keep reintroducing their hate bills year after year.

GSW55
GSW55

All sports, professional and otherwise, are overvalued.  A policeman will take a bullet for you and a fireman will go into a burning building for you.  These are just two examples of the kinds of vocations we should appreciate and compensate.  Athletics is mere amusement.  Sports writers spend their lives ginning up interest in things that are really of no great consequence.  So, no our government should not decide religious liberty or discrimination on the basis of a prospective "Super Bowl" five years from now.  


JImmy4God
JImmy4God

I would rather have God happy than the moral less sports organizations and media

fotini901
fotini901

@JImmy4God Good thing church and state are separate, then.  You can do both! 

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@JeffSchultzAJC Take a breath Schultz. It is okay to not support gay marriage. This type of mindset is why Trump has ascended the way he has

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@Rhaslam81 Not forcing churches to marry gay couples or to use their facilities is the right thing. It would be discriminatory to force that

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@atlantafixer Ah, calling someone ignorant in an attempt to silence them. I completely disagree with you as does the majority of America

Rhaslam81
Rhaslam81

@Maximus_Wallace do you believe a church should be able to turn away a black couple that wants to get married?

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@atlantafixer If that comforts you. We'll see. You're likely to be disappointed. This seems to be a touchy subject for u. Sorry we disagree

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@atlantafixer I'm pretty sure I don't have to and that's the beauty of this country. Freedom of thought, speech, and resistance to tyranny

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@Rhaslam81 It's pretty sad you feel the need to try and inject racism when it's clearly unrelated in this matter

Rhaslam81
Rhaslam81

@Maximus_Wallace discrimination is discrimination. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" MLK

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@Rhaslam81 You haven't made the point that churches practicing their religious freedom is discriminatory. The cases are mutually exclusive

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@Rhaslam81 Churches being forced to perform something against their belief is injustice. MLK would completely agree with that

Maximus_Wallace
Maximus_Wallace

@Rhaslam81 Forcing beliefs on groups is discriminatory. The question is, why do gays want to use churches when they don't agree with them?

DawgWhistle
DawgWhistle

Pretty words from the Braves organization, yet it didn't seem to bother them when they chose to move out of Atlanta and into the one county in the Metro area that has openly demonstrated just about every kind of discrimination there is...from the lynching of Leo Frank...to white-flight from West Atlanta...to voting down MARTA for openly racial reasons (and their continued position against it during recent pronouncements from its leaders)...to losing an Olympic venue site because of its position against 'the gay lifestyle'...to the religious idiocy of requiring science textbooks to include anti-evolution language...and I'll bet you that more than a few of Cobb's 'mega' churches were behind this bill. I haven't checked but you can bet they put pressure on state legislators from Cobb to support this thing. Let's see if the Braves will get Cobb's political leaders to come out against this bill....got a life-sized picture.

wsp28
wsp28

@JeffSchultzAJC great article. Hopefully the people in favor of this law step into a hole and never come back. Such a disgrace for Atl

GaSportsBlog
GaSportsBlog

@JeffSchultzAJC these GA legislators are from rural cities & could care less abt the impact on Atlanta. This bill makes prejudice ok in Ga