Monday, February 29, 2016

373K Inc.- Why We Are Leaving Georgia

Bye bye Georgai

Last week, the Georgia legislature adopted a virulently anti-gay law that would grant special rights to Christofascists and make LGBT Georgians the targets of open discrimination.  The Georgia business community is less than happy and Georgia based Delta Airlines has condemned the blatant anti-gay bigotry.  Some businesses are taking things further and are indicating that they will leave the state and seek more tolerant states as the home locations for their businesses.   It's a danger that Virginia Republicans refuse to accept as a reality.  Homophobic bigotry may play well with the ugliest elements of the GOP base, but it is toxic to businesses.  One of the founders of 373K, Inc., a tech company, has an op-ed in The Advocate as to why it will be relocating out of Georgia (I hope Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is paying attention and reaching out to recruit 373K to Virginia).  Here are highlights:
To be honest, I try to ignore everything done under that gold dome in downtown Atlanta — both chambers are controlled by closed-minded conservatives, Christians in name only. Everything they do is backward and oppressive, so I know better than to follow their shenanigans — it’s bad for my blood pressure.
As I watched the debate preceding the vote, I sat there staring in disbelief that this House Bill 757 could even be debated. I opened another browser window and did a little research and learned the bill started life as the Pastor Protection Act (in the House), another unnecessary piece of legislation, but nothing compared to the First Amendment Defense Act it had morphed into when it reached the Senate.  
At first, HB 757 was intended to protect pastors from lawsuits for refusing to marry people of the same sex due to their religious beliefs or church doctrines. It passed the House and went on to the Senate, where it became the most ugly piece of pro-discrimination legislation I’ve ever seen. When it passed the Senate it enabled any individual or organization with “deeply held religious beliefs” to deny services to a person whose marriage or lack thereof goes against their “deeply held religious beliefs.”
In case you missed it, this legislation that enables hate — officially the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act — passed the Senate by a vote of 37-15. At that moment I sat speechless. During the debate, one of our Democratic senators, Emanuel Jones, actually asked the bill’s sponsor if it presented a problem to him that the Ku Klux Klan could classify itself as a faith-based organization. To which Republican Sen. Greg Kirk responded, “No.”
Employees of my company are gay or lesbian. With the exception of two employees, both white, conservative, heterosexual Christians, every single one of my other heterosexual employees could be discriminated because they’re divorced, had children out of wedlock, are in an interracial relationship, or aren’t Christian. The fact of the matter is, we’re a high-tech company. We hire people based on their skill set and abilities; their genetic or religious makeup means nothing to us. And we’re in hiring mode. I asked myself, If you didn’t live in Georgia and you were offered a job, would you go? And the answer was a definite Hell, no! 
I instructed our president and general counsel to immediately find a new home for this corporation. Because under no circumstances would I want to stay domiciled in this state, paying taxes to this state, this state that has almost legalized hate. With the diverse group that we already have working together, and knowing that our next hire may not meet the requirements of someone’s “deeply held religious belief,” I was not going to take the chance of us not being able to attract the talent we need to keep this company growing.
The piece in The Advocate should be mandatory reading for Virginia republicans who claim they care about jobs and the economy even as they prostitute themselves and engage in politico fellatio of Christofascists and racists. 

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