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Georgia Governor to Veto Anti-Gay Religious Liberty Bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will veto the religious liberty bill dubbed by critics as “anti-gay” — House Bill 757 — after mounting pressure from major corporations and media companies, he announced Monday morning.

“Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people,” Deal said. “And that is what we should want.”

He said that he did “not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which my family and I are a part of for all of our lives.”

Hollywood studios and media companies had condemned the measure, and Disney, Marvel, the Weinstein Company and Netflix had threatened to shun the state for TV and movie production. They joined a list of corporations, including Apple and Salesforce, as well as the NFL, that had expressed dismay over the measure.

Deal announced his veto in a statement to the press on Monday.

The MPAA had expressed confidence early last week that Deal would veto the measure. The governor has been a champion of growing the state’s production base, which represented $1.7 billion in spending in fiscal 2015, according to state officials.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, had called on studios to withhold productions from the state if the governor signed the legislation.

One of the most visible supporters in the state senate, Josh McKoon, defended the legislation, and said Monday on Twitter, “It is a fantasy to suggest this bill would harm anyone.”

The bill would have allowed faith-based organizations to refuse service to those who conflict with their “sincerely held religious” beliefs, and also allow them to terminate employees who violated those beliefs.

“Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character,” Deal said. “Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state. 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.

“Our actions on HB 757 are not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia. … This is about the character of our State and the character of its people.”

Read Deal’s full remarks here.

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