On March 28 Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he will not sign the contentious House Bill 757 (HB 757), which would have allowed faith-based entities to deny services to people with conflicting views.
In a press conference this morning, Deal said he had no objection to the initial Pastor Protection Act, which would have allowed holy leaders to decline marrying same-sex couples. However, Deal said he was troubled by language that was later added which “could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination”.
Deal also said that while most people would agree the state shouldn’t force individuals to perform services that violate their faith, there have not been instances to indicate this is a problem in Georgia.
“As I have examined the protections this bill seeks to provide to religious organizations and people of faith I can find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia,” he said.
LGBT advocacy organizations and hulking coalitions of angry entertainment groups have lobbied for weeks, hoping to see HB 757 killed.
Georgia Prospers, a coalition of over 480 businesses including Delta, Marriott and Coca-Cola, opposed the bill since it first entered the legislative session, with many businesses threatening to reduce investment in Georgia or end business in the state entirely if the bill is signed into law.
In March 2015, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious freedom bill into law even though the state received similar threats from hundreds of corporations. A study from Indianapolis’ tourism agency found the city alone lost up to $60 million in potential economic impact, according to IndyStar.
After Deal’s press conference, state Sen. Mike Crane released a statement calling for a special session to override the veto, saying “the fight is not over.”
“The announcement by Governor Deal is another example of how the political class is bought and paid for by corporations and lobbyists,” Crane said.
According to AJC, after the religious liberty bill passed in the state senate, two economic recruits and a “list of corporate chieftains and Hollywood heavyweights” packed up their operations because of the bill.