Hollywood heavyweights threaten Georgia boycott over religious liberty bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is facing mounting pressure from Hollywood heavyweights to veto a religious liberty bill that critics describe as anti-gay, with some threatening a boycott that could cost the state billions in business and thousands of jobs.

In the past week, nearly three-dozen actors, directors and studio companies have threated to pull out of lucrative projects in Georgia -- a popular filming location dubbed the “Hollywood of the South” -- if Deal signs the bill. The Republican governor has until May 3 to decide whether to do so.

“I’ll try to act as expeditiously as possible, especially on major pieces of legislation. We don’t have a time frame,” Deal told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Thursday night, referring to the measure.

The bill would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to those who violate their “sincerely held” religious beliefs. It also would let employers retain the right to fire employees not aligned with those beliefs.

Supporters like Mike Griffin, a pastor and communications representative of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, say the bill protects religious viewpoints and in turn prevents discrimination against faith-based groups. Griffin told FoxNews.com he believes threats to pull profits from the state are “nothing but fear mongering.”

Critics, though, claim the bill legalizes discrimination and would hurt Georgia’s reputation.

Similar efforts in Indiana and Arkansas also ignited battles over the past year but a movie boycott in Georgia could have a disastrous economic fallout. The Peach State ranks third behind California and New York in terms of its entertainment industry.

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