Marvel and Disney Take a Stand for Gay Rights in Response to Georgia Legislation

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 - 3:59PM
Marvel
Star Wars
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 - 3:59PM
Marvel and Disney Take a Stand for Gay Rights in Response to Georgia Legislation
Disney, and by extension, Marvel Studios, have threatened to stop filming in Georgia if a controversial bill legalizing discrimination against the LGBT community is signed into law by the state governor. 

The bill, called the "Free Exercise Protection Act," guarantees that no minister will be forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony and that no individual will be forced to attend one. These rights are already granted by the First Amendment and federal laws, but the bill goes on to say that no faith-based organization "shall be required to provide social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organizations' sincerely held religious belief" and that they can't be forced to "hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organizations sincerely held religious belief." The bill has been given to the governor, Nathan Deal, and he has until May 3 to decide whether to sign it into law.

According to gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, this bill would not only allow employers to discriminate with impunity, but would open the door for taxpayer-funded social services, such as homeless shelters, drug counseling, and adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBT individuals based on religious belief. On March 19, HRC president Chad Griffin called upon Hollywood to boycott the state of Georgia and cease production there in order to ensure that the bill does not become a law.

Opening quote
"If this bill is signed into law, your employees, your contractors - all those working on your production are at risk of state-sanctioned discrimination. That is wrong. It's un-American. It's an affront on all the values Hollywood prides itself on."
Closing quote

Today, Marvel answered the call, and promised that none of the Marvel films and TV shows, Star Wars films and TV shows, or any other Disney property will film in Georgia if this bill passes.

Opening quote
"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."
Closing quote

Marvel is gradually becoming more progressive in their depictions of marginalized groups, most notably by making Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies, and have increasingly been portraying gay relationships (in their comics more than their film or TV properties), including the first-ever gay wedding in mainstream comics in Astonishing X-Men. But as powerful as fictional representation can be, Disney and Marvel wield even more economic power, so it's great to see them use their power for the forces of good.

Many movies and TV shows film in Georgia as a result of competitive tax incentives, including The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Sleepy Hollow, and more. The Walking Dead's network, AMC, has not committed to joining the boycott, but encouraged Governor Deal not to sign the bill.

Opening quote
"As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. 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."
Closing quote

Via THR

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