Atlanta-based Tyler Perry has added his voice to Hollywood’s chorus urging Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to reject a bill that discriminates against the LGBT community. “At Tyler Perry Studios, we believe in inclusion and equality for all people,” a spokesperson for the studios said Friday.
“We do not tolerate bigotry, division and discrimination,” added the spokesperson for the man behind the successful Madea franchise and OWN’s biggest shows For Better or Worse and The Haves and Have Nots. “We have tremendous confidence in Governor Deal’s leadership and ability to continue to lead our great state forward and urge him to veto this bill.”
With a big production studio already in Atlanta, Perry is planning on bringing even more business to Georgia when his expanded studio on the former site of Atlanta’s Fort McPherson Army Base is finished. Having opened in 2006, Perry’s current production facilities are a 200,000-square-foot complex in southwest Atlanta that includes five soundstages and a 400-seat theater.
Perry’s statement comes just days after he presented the Palm Sunday musical The Passion live on Fox and follows Disney’s announcement on March 23 that it would pull its business and productions out of Georgia if Deal signs the religious liberty bill into law. With today’s statement from Perry Studios, there is now universal condemnation of the act from the film and TV industry.
Netflix, Time Warner, CBS, Fox, Sony Pictures, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, NBCUniversal, Discovery, Open Road Films, The Weinstein Company, Lionsgate, MGM and AMC, whose blockbuster TV series The Walking Dead is made in Georgia, are among those who have urged a veto of the bill. As well, a plethora of big names like Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, Hunger Games EP Nina Jacobson, Greg Berlanti and Aaron Sorkin are among those who signed a letter March 24 from Human Rights Campaign condemning the legislation in the tax incentive-rich state.
The Free Exercise Protection Act aka House Bill 757 was passed through the Georgia Assembly last week. Republican Gov. Deal has until May 3 to sign or veto it. The bill aims in part “to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion,” and allows faith-based organizations to not hire or provide services to those who “violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.”
Opposition to HB 757 isn’t exclusive to Hollywood; the NFL and the Atlanta Hawks organization are against it too. All of which could see Atlanta denied its desire to be considered as a host city for an upcoming Super Bowl.