Atlanta mayor blasts Georgia’s new anti-gay bill

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Mayor Kasim Reed is battling Georgia's new anti-gay bill on two fronts since its passages on Wednesday – blasting it as damaging to the state's economy and urging business leaders not to boycott the city.

Reed, a former state senator, was in the Gold Dome late Wednesday and huddled with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle before the Senate approved House Bill 757 by a 37-18 vote. That followed a House vote that included more than an hour of emotional debate from opponents who criticized the measure as “a license to discriminate.” The House approved the bill 104-65.

As the legislation passed the General Assembly, Reed said he was quickly inundated with calls from business leaders, convention organizers and tech insiders, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. What he told them? Don't exact revenge on the city for the actions of Republican lawmakers. Reed is trying to head off a growing national backlash over the legislation.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has launched a personal campaign to convince business executives not to boycott the city following legislative passage of a controversial religious freedom bill.

“I have probably an hour and a half worth of calls to make to convention [organizers] considering pulling out the city,” Reed said Thursday morning. “I’ve got in-person visits with four CEOs in the tech space between now and [next] Wednesday.”

The fate of the bill now rests with Gov. Nathan Deal. Reed told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that he hasn't spoken to Deal about the legislation. But the mayor hasn't been shy about airing his concerns with the legislation publicly.

Reed said he’s particularly worried passage of the bill could hurt Atlanta’s bid to host the Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020.

“I can’t express the amount of damage being done to Atlanta and Georgia’s reputation as the business and cultural center of the Southeast,” he said.

And then on Thursday, Reed blistered the legislation in a four-paragraph statement, calling it an “unprecedented” attack on the “city’s rich history of diversity and inclusion.” The legislation threatens the city's LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, and similar measures in place in nearly 60 jurisdictions across the state.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Georgia Legislature passed HB 757. This measure is unprecedented in that it codifies employment discrimination and other types of discrimination as a ‘right’. This legislation will irreparably damage our economy and diminish the City of Atlanta’s standing as the business and cultural center of the Southeast.

HB 757 impairs our ability to recruit major corporate headquarters, startups, small and medium-sized businesses. Nearly every corporate, non-profit, academic leader and entrepreneur I’ve spoken with is concerned that its passage will harm their client relationships and their ability to hire world-class talent in Atlanta.

As one of the five most visited cities in the United States, I am also gravely concerned about the negative impact this legislation has on the City of Atlanta’s ability to compete for conventions and major events such as the Super Bowl, which will be worth billions to our economy in the future.

HB 757 does not represent or uphold our city’s rich history of diversity and inclusion. This bill should not become the law of our state.”

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