Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced a veto today of an antigay "religious freedom" bill that would have allowed nonprofits and even some businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers if serving them conflicted with their religious beliefs, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
House Bill 757 would have prevented the state government from taking any punitive action against an individual or faith-based organization that speaks or behaves according to a sincerely held “religious or moral conviction” that marriage should only take place between two people of the opposite sex, or that sexual relations should be limited to such a marriage.
"I do not 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," said Deal in televised remarks.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin recently called on entertainment companies to boycott Georgia if HB 757 became law. Many responded by threatening a boycott and calling on Deal to veto the bill, including Disney, Marvel, AMC, Viacom, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Starz, the Weinstein Co., Lionsgate, and numerous celebrities, showrunners, and executives. Major companies in other industries have condemned the legislation as well, and officials with the National Football League had said that if it became law, it could jeopardize Atlanta's chance of hosting a Super Bowl.
Deal, a Republican, responded to the boycott threats in his remarks during a news conference today. "I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do," said Deal.
"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 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 and prohibited municipalities from enacting new ones.
This story is developing. Keep checking back for updates.