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Greg Bluestein

Gay rights group urges Hollywood to ditch Georgia if ‘religious liberty’ becomes law

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The head of the Human Rights Campaign used the gay rights group’s annual gala in Los Angeles to call on Hollywood studios to avoid Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal signs the controversial “religious liberty” bill into law.

Chad Griffin, the group’s president, told more than 1,000 donors and supporters at the event that the measure amounts to “state-sanctioned discrimination.”

March 18, 2016 Forsyth, GA: Gov Nathan Deal bows his head during the invocation at a graduation ceremony for Georgia State Troopers Friday March 18, 2016. Deal must decide to sign or veto the Religious Liberty bill that was recently approved by both the House and Senate. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

“That is wrong. It’s un-American,” Griffin said. “It’s an affront on all the values Hollywood prides itself on. And you have the influence and the opportunity to not only defeat this bill, but to send a message that there are consequences to passing dangerous and hateful laws like this.”

Georgia has one of the nation’s most aggressive tax incentive packages for TV and film studios, and it’s turned the state into a booming location for Hollywood productions. Georgia’s Economic Development Department reports nearly 250 filming projects set up shop in Georgia in fiscal 2015, spending about $1.7 billion in the state.

The Georgia Legislature swiftly adopted an overhauled version of the legislation last week after more than three years of debate, and Deal is under pressure from both sides as he considers whether to sign it. He has until May 3 to decide.

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