The NFL employs economic pressure on Georgia’s governor to persuade him against signing the Religious Liberty Bill .
First: What is the “Religious Liberty Bill?”
Initially, this bill was drafted in an effort to protect religious freedom. It was written to prevent discriminatory practices based on a person’s religious practices and or beliefs. It didn’t become controversial until this past year. In June of 2015, the Supreme Court passed the landmark bill legalizing gay marriage. That’s when the real controversy began.
Religious leaders needed this bill to be passed in order to circumvent the potential of being forced to perform same-sex marriages. Especially if it conflicted with their religious value system.
So far so good right? We can definitely see the logic. It makes sense.
Second: Why the opposition?
Activists for the gay community believe this law could be extended to actually discriminate against individuals in their community—which is a legitimate concern. They feel this law could potentially legalize discrimination against gays.
A large portion of business leaders in Georgia also oppose this bill. They believe it would negatively impact business and economics in Georgia.
Third: What was the solution?
Law officials in Georgia worked this issue and came up with a compromise piece of legislation. What the bill stated is that faith-based organizations would be allowed to deny those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief” and preserve their right to fire employees who aren’t in accord with those beliefs.
So if we examine this compromise, we find that this bill only applies to religious organizations. Period. The only entities who truly have any stake in whether or not this bill is passed are the gay and faith-based communities.
Fourth: What does this have to do with the NFL and the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl, the new stadium that will host the Super Bowl and the NFL are not faith-based organizations. There is no direct correlation.
Here is how the NFL explains their interest in this matter:
“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” said NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy. “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.”
While the statement sounds good, running through the back of our minds is the thought, “It’s all about the money.”
Let’s review the NFL’s history on issues concerning gay athletes. Remember the Sam Greene debacle? Long story short, Sam was the first openly gay player to make an NFL roster. He was cut during tryouts by the Ram’s. The league office got wind of this and requested teams to “take another look at him.” The Cowboys picked him up. Some saw this as being a bit suspect:
“The Rams waived Michael Sam, the first openly gay player trying to make an NFL roster, he was unemployed for two days,” [NBC’s Peter] King said. “During that time a league official contacted multiple teams asking if they had evaluated Sam as a probable practice squad player.”–
“Now Sam and the NFL avoided a nightmare situation when he signed with the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys.”– The Daily Caller
The NFL’s threats to withhold a Super Bowl from Georgia and Georgia business leaders who oppose this law appear to be more concerned with their bottom line than they are with preserving the rights of individuals . They seem to fear hurting the economy and the potential loss of revenue.
The NFL has a history of making these kinds of threats and using economic pressure as a method of strengthening their position. Just two years ago, Arizona was in the same predicament over a similar bill. The bill was vetoed.
While we applaud big businesses and powerful conglomerates who make conscientious decisions. We support those who oppose discrimination–in any form–and who use economic pressure to do so. However, in this particular case, the NFL’s motives seem questionable.
Here’s a video.