Georgia Religious Freedom Bill could boost New Orleans' 2019 Super Bowl bid
NEW ORLEANS (WWLTV) - Atlanta is widely believed to be the favorite in the high-stakes competition for the 2019 Super Bowl.
That's because of its new retractable-roof stadium now set to open next year. New Orleans, Tampa and Miami are also in the running.
But a controversial bill, now awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal could dramatically change Atlanta's front-runner status.
The so called "Free Exercise Protection Act" would not only allow religious officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, but also allow faith-based organizations to deny services or employment to people who violate their, "sincerely held religious belief." The NFL has suggested such a law would take Atlanta out of consideration to host a Super Bowl.
"NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "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."
New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Steve Perry said that would boost the Crescent City's bid for the 2019 NFL championship game.
"This is the first time that the NFL has actually gone public and said that this kind of legislation makes it very difficult for them to award a game," Perry said. "The major sporting leagues, none of them, any longer are tolerant of destinations which enact laws which discriminate against large sections of the population."
SarahJane Brady, executive director of Forum for Equality applauds the NFL's stand in support of the LGBT community.
"The LGBT community is families, we're tourists, we're football fans and corporate America sees that and they're listening and they're responding," Brady said.
A number of major film and television production companies have also threatened to pull out of Georgia if the Religious Liberty Bill becomes law.
"This has really put Atlanta in peril," Perry said.
Gov. Deal has not said whether he will sign the controversial bill. He is expected to review the legislation after the Easter break.