In a very different turn of events than those occurred in NC last week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the anti-gay “religious freedom” bill that would have allowed businesses to use discrimination against LGBT customers if they were thought to be LGBTs and their beliefs conflicted with serving them, according to AJC.com.
Saying that House Bill 757 didn’t reflect Georgia’s hospitable image, he explained why he opposed the bill.
In a televised remark, Deal said that he didn’t think that “we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives.”
Deal’s actions show a striking contrast to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s. Last week McCrory signed into law the most anti-LGBT bill in the country, also rooted in “religious freedoms.”
“Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to,” he said to the AJC. “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….”
Deal had also the pressure of those fighting against the bill. Companies like Disney, Netflix, CBS, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Viacom, Starz, NBCUniversal, and many others, along with many actors like Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, Matt Bomer, Dustin Lance Black, Ryan Murphy, Seth McFarlane, etc. who openly opposed the legislation and said they would take their business elsewhere, if the bill was signed into law. It was so that the National Football League had stated that its passage could jeopardize Atlanta’s chance at hosting the Super Bowl, according to the Advocate.
“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,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement, referring to the passing of House Bill 2, a bill that struck down all existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina.
More than 30 leading actors, directors, producers, musicians, etc. signed HRC’s letter demanding the veto of the proposal.
““The 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. “Discrimination and intolerance have no place in the 21st century, and any town, city, or state that enshrines it into law will not be judged kindly by history or by the American public. Thankfully, Governor Deal listened to the voices of Georgians, civil rights organizations, as well as the many leaders in the entertainment industry and in the private sector who strongly condemned this deplorable attack on the fundamental civil rights of LGBT people. We hope North Carolina’s Governor and General Assembly are paying close attention to what has transpired in Georgia, and that they undo their disgraceful attack on LGBT people in the state’s upcoming legislative session.”
Deal will join South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard as the second Republican state executive to veto an anti-LGBT bill this month.
The HRC reported that Georgia is among a majority of states that lack explicit LGBT non-discrimination protections. Nonpartisan polling from Public Religion Research Institute released this year found that a majority of Georgians oppose allowing businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people—only 37 percent support such a bill and 57 percent oppose. Georgians also reported that they support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and access to public services by an overwhelming 66-28 margin.
[The story is still developing. Check later for updates.]