In a move that’s being applauded across the country, but appears unpopular with local residents, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the Religious Freedom bill the state legislators recently put before him. Deal claimed he rejected the bill on the grounds that it “contains language that causes me concern.”
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the move to reject the bill comes after the state received a multitude of stern warnings and even threats if they were to move forward with the bill. The legislation would have allowed businesses to legally discriminate against same-sex couples, in addition to allowing pastors to not be required to perform marriage ceremonies they disagree with on the basis of religious doctrine.
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia of which I and my family have been part of all of our lives,” Deal said in his speech following the veto action. “Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people.”
Many of the 26.5 million businesses in the United States bid for jobs with state and federal authorities with the use of proposal software. But the state could see fewer proposals coming in, and even fewer requests to set up business, since so many other companies have condemned the language in the bill as discriminatory and a step backwards. Among the prominent voices that attempted to influence the governor’s decision were Hollywood film executives and companies, Silicon Valley leaders, technology firms, various human rights and equality groups, and even the National Football League.
In addition to the threat of prospective studio projects being pulled from filming in the Peach State, at least 15 companies told the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau that they would consider pulling their businesses from the state if the bill was passed. The NFL warned that the bill’s passage could seriously hurt Atlanta’s chances of being awarded as the coveted host of a Super Bowl.
On the other side of the argument, polling suggests that the majority of local residents actually favored the passing of the bill. The poll, which was commissioned by religious organizations, found that about 66% of likely voters wanted the billed to be passed into law. Broken down by party, 79% of Republican voters, 62% of Independent voters, and 59% of Democrat voters wanted the governor to sign it.
“Georgians see nothing unreasonable in this legislation. It allows people to practice their faith as they have for centuries and without fear,” said Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “That’s why there is such overwhelming support across the board.”
One legislator, State Sen. Mike Crane (R-Newnan), even called for an immediate special session to override Deal’s veto.