The NFL came out strongly against a proposed religious exemptions bill in Georgia Friday, saying the anti-gay legislation could have an effect on the Super Bowl selection process for 2019 and 2020.
“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement in response to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s question about whether the league had any position on Georgia House Bill 757. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has also come out against the bill that would protect opponents of same-sex marriage amid concerns it could lead to discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people.
“I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer,” Blank said in a statement Friday. “House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”
Blank has hoped to land multiple Super Bowls in the team’s new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2017.
The bill has passed both houses of the Georgia Legislature, but it still has yet to be signed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
“I have heard from both sides, and I’m sure I’ll continue to hear from both sides,” Deal said. “I will take their opinions into consideration, and I’ll do what I’m required to do: Which is to make the difficult decision on a very difficult subject.”
Georgia Baptist Mission Board executive director J. Robert White had previously urged lawmakers to pass the bill.
“All Georgia citizens, organizations and businesses need protection from adverse legislation that would infringe upon their religious beliefs regarding marriage, defined in the Bible as the union of one man and one woman,” White said last month. “It is wrong to accuse persons of discrimination who live and conduct their businesses according to their deeply held religious beliefs.”