Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed an antigay "religious freedom" bill in his state two weeks ago, says Mississippi and North Carolina, which have enacted their own anti-LGBT laws, need to "take a deep breath."
“I knew it was a divisive issue. Everybody knew that from the beginning," Deal, a Republican, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of his thought process as he was deciding whether or not to veto House Bill 757. There was nothing that the bill intended to prevent that wasn't already covered by state or federal law, he explained.
The bill had "attracted a lot of connotations," and there were "words and language that was in the bill that could lead to the conclusion that it was intended for purposes other than what those who were supporting it said it was intended for," Deal said in the article, published Wednesday.
HB 757, which Deal vetoed March 28, 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.
A similar antigay measure could come back for a vote in the state in 2017, but that doesn't change the governor's position on the antigay bill. "I don't want to go through the same process all over again," Deal told the Journal-Constitution.
"I’ve made my position very clear. I tried to write a very thoughtful veto message. It expressed my concerns and it expressed my reasons for vetoing it. And those reasons won’t change in my mind," he told the paper.
Deal faced business backlash from Disney, Marvel, AMC, Viacom, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Starz, the Weinstein Co., Lionsgate, and numerous celebrities, showrunners, and executives, who threatened to boycott the state if the antigay legislation passed.
National Football League officials had said that if it became law, it could jeopardize Atlanta's chance of hosting a Super Bowl.
"My job as governor is to do what I think is best in the overall interest of the state of Georgia and its citizens as a whole. And that’s what I did," Deal told the Journal-Constitution.
North Carolina passed an anti-LGBT law days before Deal vetoed Georgia's bill and, the backlash from businesses and entertainers has been swift. Corporations have canceled expansions in the state, therefore scrapping jobs that they were planning to offer, in protest of House Bill 2. Then on April 5, the governor of Mississippi signed the nation's most aggressive anti-LGBT "religious freedom" bill into law.
Deal refererenced both Missippi and North Carolina's laws in his interview, saying, "I see what’s happening in North Carolina. I see what’s happening in Mississippi. And I would hope that many of the ones that are pushing for [such a law] would not want the state of Georgia to go through that kind of scenario."