After facing pressure from a large number of corporations, and facing the prospect of significant losses in revenue, Georgia governor Nathan Deal announced today that he would veto the state’s proposed “religious liberty” bill. The bill was ostensibly designed as a means of protecting citizens’ free expression of religion, but, was tantamount to legalizing discrimination against LGBT persons.
It read, in part: “A bill to be entitled an Act to protect religious freedoms… relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion.”
Among the high profile companies that have spoken out against the bill were Marvel Studios and Disney, the production of the television show The Walking Dead, which is filmed in Georgia, and, as Think Progress reported, “Viacom, 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate, CBS, Starz, AMC Networks (megahit The Walking Dead is currently filmed in Georgia), Netflix, Time Warner, CBS, The Weinstein Company, Sony, Comcast/NBCUniversal, MGM, STX Entertainment, and Open Road Films.”
The NFL has also threatened to deny the state the opportunity to host a Super Bowl were the bill to pass.
In a news conference, Deal said he was not reacting to pressure from the faith-based community, of which he counts himself a member. Likewise, he said he wasn’t responding to the business community, which warned Georgia could lose jobs if he signed the bill.
His decision, he said, was “about the character of our state and the character of our people. Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people.”
“Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to,” Deal went on. “We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way,” he said. “For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”
Several state Republican lawmakers have said they will call for a veto session to rebuke Deal, himself a Republican.
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