Reaction to Gov. Deal’s decision to veto ‘religious liberty’ bill

Gov. Nathan Deal announced he will veto a controversial ‘religious liberty’ bill that was widely denounced as discriminatory by the business community and gay rights groups.

Nathan Deal

Mar. 28, 2016 – Atlanta – Nathan Deal announced that he was vetoing religious liberty legislation at a news conference today in the ceremonial office. He did not answer questions. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

In a news release from Deal’s office:

“HB 757 appeared in several forms during the 2016 legislative session,” said Deal. “I had no objection to the ‘Pastor Protection Act’ that was passed by the House of Representatives. The other versions of the bill, however, contained language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination. I did have problems with that and made my concerns known as did many other individuals and organizations, including some within the faith-based community.

“I appreciate the efforts of the General Assembly to address these concerns and my actions today in no way disparage their motivations on those who support this bill. Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it will allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate on something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment to the United State Constitution. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by the man-made government, we should heed the ‘hands-off’ admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take.

“Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character. 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. As I’ve said before, I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which my family and I have been a part of for all of our lives. My decision regarding HB 757 is 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. Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people. Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings. Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.”

The veto followed the end of Georgia’s legislative session that wrapped up last week. Deal and his top business recruiter have been inundated with calls about the bill.

LINK: Georgia’s top recruiter gets earful about ‘religious liberty’ bill

Top employers and other groups, such as Disney and Marvel Studios, have called on Deal to kill the bill. 

The reaction on social media and elsewhere — both for and against Deal’s decision — was fast.

@benioff: Thank you to everyone who made today possible. A day of equality for all. Thank you .

@GAProspers: We applaud for his courage in vetoing . We share his vision of an inclusive and welcoming Georgia.

@WillKremer: Governor Deal didn’t hold back any punches. His critiques of religious and business communities are fair and valid.

@RicGlobalATL: Thank you for vetoing . GA is greater through diversity + inclusion. I chose GA where all are welcome & equal.

@:GEORGIA GOVERNOR TO VETO ANTI-GAY BILL!. Thank you everyone who stood up & protested in support of LGBT citizens. Your voices were heard.

Other groups issued statements:

“We applaud Governor Deal for his courage in vetoing HB 757. In doing so, the Governor confirmed that there is no place in Georgia for legislation perceived as allowing for discrimination. His thoughtful deliberation and consideration on this issue has led to an outcome that preserves Georgia’s positive business climate, encourages job growth and sustains our quality of life, and is truly in the best interest of all Georgians. Governor Deal has made it clear that Georgians value both our rich faith traditions and our place as a global destination for businesses and visitors alike. We share his vision of Georgia as an inclusive, welcoming state and support his decision in this important debate.” – Metro Atlanta Chamber

“ACVB thanks Governor Deal for his deliberate and swift action on HB 757,” Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO William Pate said in a statement. “His decision will sustain Georgia’s position as the No. 1 state in which to do business and will benefit all Georgians for years to come.”

“Salesforce applauds Governor Deal’s decision to veto HB 757. We look forward to growing both our team and investments in Georgia—including hosting thousands of customers, partners and employees at our Salesforce Connections event in Atlanta on May 10-12th.” — California-based Technology company Salesforce

“The Georgia Chamber agrees with Governor Deal’s thoughtful reasoning to veto HB757. While we thank members of the General Assembly for their efforts to find a balanced approach, we believe this action ensures that Georgia continues to be a welcoming state to live and do business.” — Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Hank Linginfelter

 

Past Coverage

Weeks of debate ahead over Georgia ‘religious liberty’ bill

Nathan Deal’s vexing decision on ‘religious liberty’

Analysis: Bill could be used to overturn anti-discrimination ordinances

Sandy Springs councilman proposed LGBT protections

Isakson says Georgia should leave religious liberty up to Feds

Reader Comments 0

122 comments
Noland Bell
Noland Bell

Deal is a total rino! What a sellout who will never get my vote again!!!

Dee Osborne
Dee Osborne

I never thought I'd agree with anything ol Naughty Nathan did. He got this one right.

Valerie Hall
Valerie Hall

Why would you threaten him. My god is it that serious.

Wendy E Robson
Wendy E Robson

This veto gives \U0001f1e8\U0001f1e6 some hope for election spring. Thank you.

David Costello
David Costello

Money it's all about the money....so knock off the BS.......

Clarence Cole
Clarence Cole

Thank you Governor Deal, my respect for you just rose a huge amount. I've met you Sandra several times, but your decision on this bill made me much more thankful that you are governor.

Edward Morris
Edward Morris

Hey explain to your kids why those two men are kissing in the Church! Then tell them God says it wrong but the Government says it fine! Sad day ! But there's a place for them Hell .Lol

Joel Shipp
Joel Shipp

He finally did something that I agree with.

David Gruneisen
David Gruneisen

I was hoping that this law was going to keep the Jews and Protestants out of our restaurants, movie theaters and water fountains. Their faiths are an abomination before the only true God and are an affront to my beliefs and purity of my family.

Adrian Bell
Adrian Bell

He's bought and owned. Typical politician.

Bill Evelyn
Bill Evelyn

He can stuff it. He is a statist freak.

Curtis Pace
Curtis Pace

You can't stop discrimination!! Always can find away around the laws they make. IF someone don't won't a gay person working for them always can fire them period. In Ga you don't have to have a reason to fire someone js..

Andy Franklin
Andy Franklin

Hmmmm, so Gov. Deal 'doesn't respond well to threats' yet that's exactly what he did...Money whistled the tune and he danced......But that's okay.... if I can find an atheist who performs civil unions I can DEMAND they perform a Christian wedding ceremony for me...They can't refuse because they don't believe what I believe...Oh, and no extreme religious group that worships potted plants or dead gophers can be refused service if they choose to bring their deity to lunch with them....Of course, if the lady down the street wants to marry her German Shepherd she has that right too.......Yep, freedom for all or for none, right?....

Andy Franklin
Andy Franklin

Well, nice to see so many incorrect, stereotypical, insulting comments all strung together as a rebuttal...Doesn't do anything to state your case, but you gave it a try.....I'm guessing here but you weren't on the debate team in college, were you?

Will Reid
Will Reid

Actually you're incorrect, the 1st Amendment protects all Religions equally. If this law was passed it would've created an opening not only for discrimination of gays, but also blacks, asians, Hispanics even divorced people.

Andy Franklin
Andy Franklin

I beg to differ...To protect religious freedoms; to amend Chapter 3 of Title 19 of the Official Code of1Georgia Annotated, relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials2shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments3in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of4the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as5to change certain provisions relating to days of rest for employees of business and industry;6to protect property owners which are religious organizations against infringement of religious7freedom; to define a term; to provide for related matters; to provide an effective date; to8repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Andy Franklin
Andy Franklin

Nowhere in the bill did it allow discrimination based on race such as refusal of services UNLESS it directly related to the established religious beliefs.....There are Preachers right now that will not perform wedding ceremonies between divorced individuals unless certain conditions exist such as infidelity of the former spouse....

Curtis Pace
Curtis Pace

Hahaha he didn't do it because he thought it was right and not sick he did it for money and business in the state period... Money talks BS walks. ...

Ugaboss
Ugaboss

It didn't take a Philadelphia lawyer to know he would veto this bill. This business about he doesn't take well to threats is hogwash. He gave in to the threats of industry to leave. I just wonder how much Arthur Blank and others added to his bank account. Deal is the most corrupt governor GA has seen in years and that's saying a lot. Doesn't take lightly to threats.....psst.

Tressa Rawlinson
Tressa Rawlinson

It is your last term so you could care less about what the people of Georgia want!

TJ Cochran
TJ Cochran

As a person who grew up in Georgia and still maintains property and residency there, here is my personal issue with the bill. There is no public posting of the businesses and who they choose to serve or not serve. As you are a white male who I assume is straight, you have probably never been on the receiving end of any type of discrimination. The embarrassment and harassment that comes from being told "we don't serve your kind here" in front of what could be hundreds of people is the issue at hand for me. That is discrimination and is something that happened in the 50s and 60s. These past practices should not be repeated. As a gay man, I am smart enough and open minded enough to know that some religious leaders do not support marriage of two men. Because of this, I have the wisdom and ability to not approach them to tie me in marriage. Unlike some people who supported this bill, I choose to not force my lifestyle on others and would never discriminate against someone based on their religious beliefs. The problem with this type of bill is it makes it legal for any business who is short-sided with the mindset of "I just don't want to be a part of it" to rudely refuse service and make another human being feel like they are less deserving than another. When women's rights and the civil rights bills were passed decades ago, people were uncomfortable going against their typical mindsets and how they were raised. Today, I am sure you would not discriminate against a woman or person of color. All too often people get caught up in their own selves and forget that kindness isn't about race, religion, or who I want to marry but making the world a better place is about treating others like humans. No one in civil rights history has ever asked for the privilege to be more than another, they simply do not want to be treated as less than a human. I felt this bill would have created a legal process for closed minded people to treat others horribly. Gov. Deal made a great choice today in vetoing this bill and I hope that eventually others see that. Sadly not everyone can see the bigger picture. Not everyone is able to think logically and be open-minded. A bill such as this one would have created issues for various people, not just the LGBTQ community. For example: Westboro Baptist church does not support our military and often protest their funerals. Under this law, they could purchase every business that performs funeral services and thus halt all funeral services to military in the state of Georgia saying that doing so is against their religion. Would you support the law with this thought? Until we are able to put ourselves in another person's shoes we do not fully understand the ramification that a law like this could create. That is the issue with this bill. It provides any one to claim their organized religion is more important that you as a person whether you agree with their religious beliefs or not. So be kind. I will not ask a person of religion to commit me to marriage if you do not ask me to protest the funeral a dead soldier or tread on those things I find valuable that make the person I am.

Matt Smith
Matt Smith

It's all about the green back's !!! You yelled calf rope !!!!

Tom Hornbuckle
Tom Hornbuckle

The comments from anti-Christian extremists speak volumes

Greg Camp
Greg Camp

Oh yes. Christians are being fed to the lion's as we speak.

Ryan Mclean
Ryan Mclean

oh boo hoo you poor hypocritical christians are being so persecuted because you cant be bigots …what a joke ….

Ryan Mclean
Ryan Mclean

tom you need to go back and reread you fairy tale book abut the sin of gluttony, fat boy, and stop obsessing about gays who have zero affect on your life

Brian Grant
Brian Grant

It says rather too much about the state of conservative Christianity in America that it can be shamed into love and kindness by Big Business.

Duel Mitchell
Duel Mitchell

dollar deal just help sell youth down the tube.

Ronnie Wheeler
Ronnie Wheeler

Now, that Deal veto the Bill, we need to know who these faith-based community places, and people are so we can stay away from.

Phil Matthews
Phil Matthews

What I don't understand this bill would not only hurt the gay community do people not realize if people want to use their bigot religious ways this could be against any group, the African American, the Latinos , and inter racial couple if they go up in a restaurant or establishment and the owner didn't think you fit their so called religious belief

drofdem
drofdem

@AtlantaNewsFeed Georgians agree with Gov Deal but elite media & companies that threaten extortion we do not agree with.

Obie Booker
Obie Booker

The only driving force behind his decision was money. The money that was projected to be lost.

Elisha Groover
Elisha Groover

Won't vote for him Again he doesn't deserve to be in the office.

Les Bouska
Les Bouska

He's not running. However, he did the right thing.

Tara Persinger Harris
Tara Persinger Harris

This is about the only right thing he's ever done, and now you wouldn't vote for him?

Stephanie Williams
Stephanie Williams

Threats? Yeah OK and if I believe that I got some prime land to sell. I have no doubt that there was some back door promises made and he is just saying this to look good. Man you are full of it and not to be trusted or believed.

Melody Dareing
Melody Dareing

Let's see if he's offered a cushy job after he leaves office.