Dear Commons Community,
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) vetoed a bill yesterday that would have allowed open discrimination against gay people. His veto is seen as a huge victory for the LGBT community and for businesses that had been threatening to boycott the state if he signed the law. As reported in various media:
“Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people. And that is what we should want,” Deal said during a press conference. “I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto House Bill 757.”
The bill would have prevented the government from taking action against organizations or people with “a sincerely held religious belief regarding lawful marriage between… a man and a woman.” It would have opened the door to all kinds of discrimination against same-sex couples. A state-contracted counselor, for example, could refuse to provide services to people in a same-sex marriage. Taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies could refuse to place children in their homes. Government employees, a la Kim Davis, could refuse to file official forms for same-sex couples.
Supporters of the bill have said it’s meant to protect religious freedom, and Deal was careful not to disparage the bill’s advocates. But he clearly had frustrations with people on both sides of the debate. The bill drew tremendous backlash from businesses, athletic organizations, people in the entertainment industry and people of faith nationwide. Companies like Salesforce and Disney, the latter of which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s economy, had vowed to take their business elsewhere if the bill became law.
“For those in the religious community, some of whom have resorted to insults that question my convictions and my character, and to those within the business community, some of whom — not all by any stretch — have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state, they should know, I do not respond very well to insults or threats,” he said. Deal said the bottom line was that he didn’t think the bill was necessary.”
Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, said in a statement. “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 L.G.B.T. people, and he has set an example for other elected officials to follow.”
Congratulations Governor although I am sure that the prod from the business community helped you make this decision.