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LGBT Activists Recruit Hollywood in Fight Against ‘Religious Freedom’ Bills

It’s an election year, which means many conservative politicians are trying to impress their constituents with showy new legislation based on far right wing ideology. Unfortunately for the LGBT residents of Tennessee and North Carolina, this has resulted in new “religious freedom” laws that many believe promote discrimination.

North Carolina recently passed a Frankenstein’s monster of a law, one that combines so-called bathroom bills and religious freedom laws. Not only does the bill require that people only use the bathroom that matches the biological sex on their birth certificate, but it also forbids cities and counties in the state from passing non-discrimination laws that conflict with the state rules, which offer no protections for the LGBT community.

While other states pass non-discrimination laws to protect LGBT workers and students, southern states like Mississippi and North Carolina have moved in the opposite direction. Many LGBT people suffer from depression during their teen years, and depression makes young people 12 times more likely to commit suicide. Opponents of anti-LGBT laws and anti-trans bathroom bills say they are about religious freedom in name only.

Meanwhile, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide if he’s going to sign a similar law, which would make it legal for faith-based groups to hire, fire, and refuse service to any individual that offends their sincerely-held religious beliefs.

If the backlash against North Carolina is any indication, then Georgia has a lot at stake. Leaders of the business, entertainment, and political worlds have shunned North Carolina in the days following the passage of HB 2.

PayPal withdrew a planned expansion and 400 jobs, while the NBA said it would cancel a future All-Star game. State governments banned travel to the Tar Heel state, while entertainers like Bruce Springsteen cancelled upcoming visits to the state as well. As The Daily Beast aptly put it, “North Carolina May Never See a Celebrity Again.”

Hollywood leaders have an outsized influence in Georgia, which is home to one of the country’s largest media centers outside of Los Angeles. Already, celebrities like Anne Hathaway have urged Governor Deal to reject the law, while Lucasfilm, Disney, Marvel, AMC, Time Warner and The Weinstein Company have promised to permanently stop all production in Georgia if the law is signed.

“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,” a spokesperson said to Vulture.

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