Bigotry hurts. Georgia is about to find out how much.
373K Inc., a Decatur, Ga.-based telecom company announced plans, via Twitter, to leave the state after the Georgia Senate passed the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” which would give special legal protections to both individuals and corporations — including taxpayer-funded non-profits — who claim they have a sincerely held religious belief that prohibits them from serving LGBT people or same-sex couples, according to NewCivilRightsMovement.com.
Legal experts have already said the legislation is probably unconstitutional. But it still passed the Senate by a huge majority, 38-14. The House has already passed an earlier version of the Senate bill will likely approve the Senate’s version this week. GOP Gov. Nathan Deal hasn’t said whether he will sign it, but he is expected to.
In a Twitter post on Friday, Feb. 19, 373K declared: “We are very saddened by the Georgia Senate which passed #HB757, also known as #FADA. It’s time to relocate.”
373K Co-founder Kelvin Williams has since says he and the company stand by that message. Williams told New Civil Rights Movement on Saturday, Feb. 20, “I’m gay, our CFO is gay, we have people from every walk of life working here. I’ve got Muslims, Buddhists, atheists here. We’ve got great Christians working for us. They’ve never thought of not serving anyone — that’s not the message of Christ. We don’t tolerate that crap [discrimination].”
Williams has called on other companies in Georgia to also speak out against the legislation, including the 130-year-old, $44 billion Coca-Cola Company, which is based in Atlanta.
Hundreds of top corporations that do business in Georgia have already spoken out by signing the Georgia Prospers pledge, which declares a commitment to creating “workplaces and communities that 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.”
Watch the video below as Georgia Sen. Emanuel Jones, a black man, ask the bill’s white author, Sen. Greg Kirk, whether the legislation would also protect the KKK. Kirk acknowledges that it probably would, and admits that he has no problem with that: