The Accenture executive was asked an awkward question as he stood next to Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: Would he be announcing an 800-jobs deal if Georgia had adopted a “religious liberty” bill a year ago? The executive, Jimmy Etheredge, danced around the issue, saying the state’s “business-friendly reputation” made Atlanta “an easy decision” for the new hub.
Such is the fraught backdrop of the debate brewing already over controversial legislation that stalled last year, which supporters see as a crucial new layer of legal protection for the faithful and critics call state-sanctioned discrimination. It seems certain that the proposal will make a comeback next year.