Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia held a press conference this morning to announce he will veto the so-called "religious liberty" bill HB 757.
The anti-LGBT legislation would have allowed faith-based organizations to deny services, educational, chariable, social or otherwise to people who, in the view of the organiztion, violate the organization's "sincerely held religious belief.
The legislation also allowed these organizations to fire employees whose “religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.”
Major organizations that spoke out against the legislation include Apple, the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks, Dell, Disney, the Dow Chemical Company, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Hilton, Intel, Intercontinental Hotels, Live Nation Entertainment, Marriott, Marvel, MailChimp, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Microsoft, the NFL, Paypal, Salesforce, Square, Time Warner, Turner, Twitter, Tyler Perry Studios, Unilever, The Weinstein Company, Virgin, and Yelp.
And more - AMC, Viacom, Starz, 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate, Netflix, CBS, Sony, Comcast, and MGM. The list of corporations concerned about losing business over hateful legislation was very long indeed.
Factoring into Deal's decision to veto had to be the news that Chris Riley, chief of staff for the governor, emailed this to Spiro Amburn, top aide to House Speaker David Ralston:
“We received official notification this morning that Georgia was dropped from contention from two pending economic projects we had been working at gdec prior to any decision being made on the bill,” Riley wrote, referring to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Both projects cited Hb 757 as why they were removing Georgia from consideration.”
The bill was bad. As we've seen across the country, these bills do more to divide Americans than bring us together.
Good for Gov. Deal and good for Georgia.
Update - LGBT organizations respond:
Today we feel very fortunate that LGBT people and people with living with HIV were spared the terrible consequences of HB 757. We applaud today’s veto by Governor Deal and thank him for his willingness to listen to the voices explaining the damage this bill could have caused.
In the end, Governor Deal did not allow hate and fear-mongering to dictate state policy; instead he chose to act reasonably and with compassion and demonstrated that equality is a Georgia value. He listened to the business community, hundreds of ministers, and tens of thousands of Georgians who opposed the bill. Freedom of religion does not give any of us permission to discriminate against others.
HB 757 would have allowed anyone to use religion to treat LGBT people, and others, unfairly and to ignore anti-discrimination policies. As is always the case when discriminatory laws target LGBT people and people living with HIV Lambda Legal is poised to defend the rights of our community.
Human Rights Campaign:
“Our message to Governor Nathan Deal was loud and clear: this deplorable legislation was bad for his constituents, bad for business, and bad for Georgia’s future,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Today, Governor Deal heard the voices of Georgians, civil rights organizations, as well as the many leaders in the entertainment industry and private sector who condemned this attack on the fundamental rights of LGBT people, and he has set an example for other elected officials to follow. Discrimination and intolerance have no place in the United States of America, and we hope North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly are paying close attention to what has transpired in Georgia. They must undo their disgraceful attack on LGBT people in the state’s upcoming legislative session.”