‘Religious liberty’ bill turned into an Alabama-Vanderbilt game

Mar. 28, 2016 - Atlanta - Nathan Deal announced that he was vetoing religious liberty legislation at a news conference today in the ceremonial office. He did not answer questions. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he was vetoing “religious liberty” legislation at a news conference Monday in the ceremonial office. He did not answer questions. (Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com)

“Follow the money.”

It was a phrase I heard for the first time when I saw the movie “All The President’s Men,” something whispered by a secret source to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in the dark of a Washington D.C. parking deck. Hal Holbrook (“Deep Throat”/Mark Felt) was telling Robert Redford (Woodward) that if he found the source of money for the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, he would find the real story.

“Follow the money” is applicable in sports. Why do you believe the NFL, the NCAA and so many leagues and conferences make some of the illogical decisions they do?

“Follow the money,” although somewhat in reverse, is basically what happened Monday when Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he is going to veto House Bill 757, also known as the “Religious Liberty” bill (because that sounded better than “Legalized Discrimination” bill).

I’ve weighed in on why I believed the bill was wrong and how it would severely impact Atlanta’s ability to land major sports events. The NFL, the Falcons, Braves, Hawks, NCAA and College Football Playoff officials were among those who stated their objections to the bill and suggested that if it was signed into law, there could be economic repercussions. The NFL said any kind of exclusionary law like that would be factored into whether a bidding city would win the right to host a Super Bowl. That’s the NFL’s way of saying, “Don’t you dare.”

I’m not going to pretend to be able to look into Gov. Deal’s head and claim to know what he really believes about the bill. It’s much easier to look into the heads of bill proponents like state senators Greg Kirk and Josh McKoon, because their misguided thoughts are right there at the surface, like mold. So when Deal says the measure “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people,” while I agree with those words, I can’t be certain if they truly reflect his thoughts. If that’s what he really believes, all the better.

But the more this bill was talked about, the more Deal realized the high level opposition that it faced. When the governor faced mounting criticisms from teams and leagues, as well as corporations and Hollywood, this quickly turned into an Alabama-Vanderbilt game.

Deal followed the money — or rather, he visualized the money leaving Georgia and flowing into another state.

To reiterate, sports can often have a profound impact on the “real” and political worlds. Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Jesse Owens were among those who protested racism, sexism and various forms of discrimination in their own way.

Protests in Missouri over race and work place benefits didn’t draw overwhelming attention until the University of Missouri’s football team, with the help of a former Georgia player, threatened to boycott.

The final chapter of this debate wasn’t about “religious liberty” or “religious freedom” as much as it was about an individual’s or a team’s or a sports league’s freedom to protest, and how Deal would respond to those protests.

If you don’t like it, you’re also welcome to protest. Or move.

Deal’s decision means there’s a greater likelihood that major sports events and money will flow into Georgia. The veto likely was made for economic reasons. But it was correct for far more important reasons than that.

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121 comments
UncleMike
UncleMike

When will "WHITE" girls rock? I am about tired of the naggers!

fyo0u
fyo0u

The 757 veto was the right thing for our governor to do.  Now he should continue  by vetoing campus carry. 

PMR
PMR

A. A Super Bowl in Atlanta does not put 1 cent in my pocket. Neither does it benefit 99% of Georgia residents. So why do we care? We're going to watch it on TV no matter where it is anyway.


B. Georgia has BY FAR the most favorable movie industry tax laws in the country. If you believe the "follow the money" theory then you must also believe that there is no way the movie industry is moving out of Georgia when it would cost them a tremendous amount of money to do so. Idle threat.


C. What troubles me more than anything is the demographics of those who have applauded the decision made by Gov. Deal. How many of those over 25 had parents born in Georgia? How many live outside Metro Atlanta? Atlanta has more people who are not FROM Atlanta than are. Jeff Shultz for instance.  People want to move to and live in Georgia because where ever they are from is a crap hole. THEN when they get here they want to do everything they can to bring the very things  here that make where they came from a crap hole. They don't like our values, they don't like our flag, they don't like how we talk. The vast majority of the citizens of Georgia were for the passage of this bill.  Gov. Deal caved to Hollywood, the NCAA and the NFL, none of which are citizens of Georgia. To paraphrase  a great American, "If you don't like the way we do things here, the way we talk, our values, then Delta is ready when you are."


rtpiv
rtpiv

@PMR I was born and raised in Georgia, so were my parents and their parents, etc.,etc. The law was wrong.


If you live in Georgia, a Super Bowl does benefit you. Those who have studied economics know that every job created and every dollar brought into an economy benefits all through economic multipliers. From the money spent by people who got jobs to the profits businesses receive from increases sales, and the resulting taxes paid to support infrastructure, we all benefit.


Today's news reports are that PayPal is not bringing new jobs to North Carolina because of their discrimination law. It will pay us to watch closely what repercussions the people of NC will face.

C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

@PMR Just because you're a hater who was born here doesn't redeem your sad sack life. You're just local born hater. Climb back under a rock.

firefighters dad
firefighters dad

What a waste of taxpayers money. We should not let a few narrow minded bigots use their positions to make everyone conform to their beliefs. Let the people vote on it and it would be soundly defeated. That is why all these states try their dirty work in their legislature because they know the people will not approve it.

PMR
PMR

@firefighters dad Dumbest thing ever written. Polls show that over 75% of the citizens of Georgia were for the passage of this bill.

C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

@PMR @firefighters dad BS - show me the polling data. 75% of Georiga citizens aren't haters. Maybe 75% of the people who answered their landline phone were haters because that's what geezers in Georgia tend to do.

rtpiv
rtpiv

Whatever his reasons, he did the right thing. Money played an important role in Atlanta's quietly desegregating restaurants and hotels in the 1960s while the rest of the south hopelessly fought it. Birmingham's image, for example, was tarnished and Atlanta left it in the dust as far as growth and prestige.


I haven't seen one instance where a minister or a church has been sued over refusing to perform a marriage ceremony under any circumstances involving a gay couple, or even a previously divorced couple, or even a mixed-race couple.  In the U.S. and in Georgia, homosexuals are not a protected class, meaning they can be discriminated against and there is no legal recourse. 


This bill did nothing to advance religious freedoms, it was just trying to make a point against same-sex marriage. It was going to cost many people in our state their livelihoods, not just affect the rich and powerful. 

FlatTire
FlatTire

@rtpiv evidently you missed the recent case about the business not wanting to bake a cake

rtpiv
rtpiv

@FlatTire @rtpiv That was in Oregon. Oregon has a discrimination law that covers sexual orientation. Georgia does not. The Oregon ruling was based on their anti-discrimination law. There is no law to prohibit discrimination against gay people in Georgia, by churches, preachers, or businesses.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@rtpiv  and how is that Oregon law not a discrimination law to those who want to uphold their religious beliefs?  And that was the point of this law in Georgia to protect those from having to go against their beliefs

FlatTire
FlatTire

So no religious freedom is ok now?

You may agree or disagree with the bill. The people behind the bill are entitled to their opinion as are you. Deal had a right to veto the bill and did. If you do not like what Deal did, then vote him out and bring it back up. If the nation does not like that the bill is voted in then do not come to Georgia, who cares?

TOJacket
TOJacket

The Chamber of Commerce!

dawg fan
dawg fan

Religious beliefs are not a license to discriminate against people.  Under the reasoning of this bill people could use religious beliefs to justify and excuse almost anything.  That is a slippery slope the government should not encourage in any shape, form or fashion.  Any educated person should see why this bill was a problem, regardless of what they think about gay marriage.  This was an embarrassment to our state.  I'm glad it's behind us.    

TGT88
TGT88

@dawg fan So you have no problem with prostitution, polygamy, adultery, incest, and the like? Otherwise, of course, you would be guilty of "discrimination." 


Any educated person, that actually read the bill (or even heard through reliable resources what it actually did), would know that your conclusions about the bill are nonsense. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

Your last comment in your article said that Deal vetoed the bill in all likelihood, for economic reasons, but it was correct for far more important reasons than that. So, Mr. Jeff Schultz, you're a writer so how about spelling out those far more important reasons. I don't care if the Super Bowl doesn't come to Atlanta...I don't care if the CF Championship doesn't come to Atlanta....what I do care about is not being bulldozed into making a decision against the will of the majority in Georgia to satisfy the greed of a few. Further, I think that Gov. Deal has political ambitions beyond being governor and that decision will look good on his resume. What should be on his resume is that his decisions are easily swayed by money......that makes him perfect for politics in Washington.

Kensdobs
Kensdobs

@TideDawg I don't care if those of you, who pretend to be so damned religious, & who try to put themselves in a legal & constitutional position where they can legally discriminate against selected groups of people they don't like, don't get the constitutional right to do so. 


You don't get special right to discriminate while everyone else has to abide by the established constitutional laws that prohibit discrimination of any kind.


You have all of the RELIGIOUS FREEDOM you need to practice your religions, beliefs, & enjoy separation of church & state. Have you forgotten that law? But what you don't have, nor should you have, is the legal right to impose your religious beliefs on others, which is exactly what you're trying to do with this bill & others like it. 

Russholt
Russholt

Schultz is it possible for you to stick to reporting, commenting on SPORTS and keep your politics to yourself ? OK Gov Deal caved in.  When is the Super duper Bowl coming to ATL?? That's what the NFL said so give us a date.  When is the Peach bowl going to host a CFP game? Has it been announced?  Everyone has rights except those who hold to the Christian faith ( please try and force a Muslim to do something against their religion ) . When I cancel this rag I'll get a few calls from the sales folks. That's fine. I'll be happy to tell them I expect to read about Sports on the sports page NOT more liberal left politics. 

Logos10
Logos10

@TOJacket @Russholt The right to follow your religious conscience in your private life.  Or have you not been paying attention?  I run a T-shirt company (my own private company).  If people come in and want "Gay Pride" T-shirts printed and I refuse, can I be prosecuted?  Ya know...like that bakery in Oregon?  Just because neither you nor Shultz care about religious liberty issues doesn't mean others don't.  The only sad thing here is that the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment has to have State legislatures backing it in order for it to get enforced.


TOJacket
TOJacket

@Logos10 @TOJacket @Russholt So if you printed them and made a nice profit and tithed 10% to the church would they refuse it?.........I kind of doubt it........and what I consider a truly righteous man doing is taking their order and maybe inviting them to your church one Sunday..........God loves all......ask Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker?

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@Logos10 @TOJacket @Russholt State legislatures backed the first amendment by ratifying the constitution and adopting the exact same language in their own separate constitutions. If you want to deny people the ability to make you print a "Gay Pride" t-shirt, start your own church/printing press. If you are a for profit business serving the general public, you're bound by fair business practices. Either way, I fail to see the actual legal, personal, or spiritual harm in selling such a shirt. Then again, I'm not afraid of gay folk. Neither is God.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Russholt Just what "rights" have you been denied as a christian? How will the veto of this bill cause you to do something against your beliefs? You must be a weak person? thank goodness the Governor can see past the Pulpit.
 

rtpiv
rtpiv

@Logos10 @TOJacket @Russholt Oregon has a law against discrimination for sexual orientation. Georgia does not have such a law. So you can refuse to sell your t-shirts to gays all you want- in Georgia. This bill would not have changed anything.


“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society,” the commissioner ruled. “The ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.”

lteynon
lteynon

"Or move."  Really?   And I thought only us "religious fundamentalists" were closed minded and "my way or the highway." 

Logos10
Logos10

@lteynon Shultz is a moron.  The frightening thing is that the moron is also a political tyrant.

YellowJacket7879
YellowJacket7879

Freedom can't be a one way street and as much of a sports fan as I am, it is NOT the primary motivator for my value system.  


Surely anyone who has an opposing viewpoint of today's political correctness culture which says there is no right and no wrong unless you disagree with me, will quickly be supposed to have beliefs that are rooted in intolerant bias.  This was about affording religious based institutions with the protection to practice their faith whether you agree with their faith or not.  Each side of the issue should have the right to make the business choices that suit their needs.  You are free to go your way and I'd like to have the same freedom.  There is certainly an abundance of choices that the LGBT community has to service their business (only in S.F. could you find slightly more).  This was about their desire to cash in on a political advantage to impose their beliefs on others. 


I leave you with this, your rights end where mine begin.  And, this decision was made by the 0.1% who would ever actually benefit from the rare NFL, NBA event or Hollywood production.  And Jeff you are right, this was about the power of the purse to influence the privileged.   And the medial are among those privileged.  The rest of us would never have access to a Super Bowl no matter where it is played.


FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@YellowJacket7879 Gay people should have their options in commerce limited compared to the public at large and that's okay because it's about freedom? Freedom is about more than exerting your own belief system, it's about accepting and living with those that exert their own. It's a responsibility and a burden to allow someone the same rights and access that you possess in this country. It's an abandonment of that principle to narrow someone else's choices and claim freedom. 


As for the "follow the money" bit. Sure, Jeff might be right. But the Christian lobby has money too. They fund as many campaigns as the Koch brothers and George Soros, they destroy as many candidates as well. Could the loss of potential jobs/money to the state have influenced him? Sure. Could it just have been a stupid bill? Certainly.

TideDawg
TideDawg

There are a lot of very eloquent opinions posted and most of them are true no matter which side is your choice. The truth is, in my opinion, that right and wrong were not the issue in deciding whether or not to pass the bill. It's all about money. What do you think the decision would have been if all of the heat was on the losing side?

TOJacket
TOJacket

Jesus loves the little children.....all the children of the world....red and yellow,black and white...they are precious in his sight...Jesus loves the little children of the world. Worry about you and yours........I had a cousin who was gay who died way too young a few years ago, I can't in my heart believe that the God I believe in would keep him out of Heaven......that's all I have to say about that.

Logos10
Logos10

@TOJacket That's very sweet that you believe that, but it's irrelevant to the religious liberty argument.  You an either exercise your religious conscience in the private and/or public sphere or you cannot.  You gonna prosecute nurses who refuse to participate in abortion procedures?  Think they should just be fired, fined, jailed?


FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@Logos10 @TOJacket Are any nurses being prosecuted for not performing abortions? Fined? Jailed? Did this bill have anything to do with abortion? Is anyone required by law to perform any other elective medical procedures? Pretty sure the answer is no to all of that.

Not sure where in the bible it says "thou shalt not bake a cake if" or "thou shalt not photograph..." or "though shall not authorize a legal contract between two people if," but I've only read the King James version. I imagine you are already exercising your freedom by not having gay sex, or marrying someone of the same sex. Those people can still be legally fired and are less than 20 years removed from being fined and jailed for exercising their beliefs. Is/was that ok? 


Thenumber34
Thenumber34

There is some sodomizing going on in the streets tonight. Look at the rainbow flags falling from the sky.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Thenumber34 Heterosexuals account for as much sodomy as any other group, you certainly don't need a flag to participate.

Zachary Thomaston
Zachary Thomaston

Money matters. Your fairy tales do not. Welcome to the world. Exit is just past the trigger pull to your right if it gets too much for you.