Bill to protect Christian rights is vetoed
Due to pressure from major corporations and LGBT groups, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal indicated Monday that he will veto a bill that sought to protect the rights of citizens with traditional religious values.
House Bill 757 would have given faith-based organizations in Georgia the option to deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Supporters said the measure was meant to protect religious freedom, while opponents have described it as “anti-LGBT” and “appalling.”
Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Deal, a Republican, said he didn’t think the bill was necessary.
His decision, he said, was “about the character of our state and the character of our people. Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people. … I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason I will veto House Bill 757.”
A Georgia legislator who supported HB 757, state Sen. Mike Crane, called for a special session to override Deal’s veto, saying it’s an example of how corporations and lobbyists buy influence with “the political class.”House Speaker Dennis Ralston, a Republican, called the bill “a good faith compromise” that included “clear anti-discriminatory language.”“It is regrettable that the merits of this measure have been ignored in the days since its passage by critics who had not taken the time to read the bill or understand the legal issues involved,” he said.Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, issued a statement defending the bill, saying it “simply protects pastors, churches, and faith-based organizations from being forced to violate their religious beliefs. … We are confident we will ultimately prevail in protecting the free speech and religious expression of all Georgians.”The proposed Georgia law would have ensured that pastors could not be forced to perform same-sex marriages. It also would have allowed faith-based organizations to fire, to refuse to hire, or to refuse services to someone if doing so violates their faith.