It would have allowed religious groups to discriminate against the LGBT community.
Photo via (cc) Flickr user Jamelle Bouie
Last week, GOOD reported that major businesses including Disney and the NFL took stances against an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill that had been passed by both of Georgia’s legislative chambers. House Bill 757, also known as the Pastor Protection Act, would have given faith-based organizations the right to fire people who violate a group’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It also would have allowed clergy to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. But today, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that he would veto the bill.
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community,” Deal said. “I believe it is about the character of our state, and the character of our people.” Although the governor didn’t say that he was vetoing the bill to avoid pending economic fallout, over the weekend, his chief of staff, Chris Riley, sent an email to the State House speaker’s top aide, saying: “We received official notification this morning that Georgia was dropped from contention from two pending economic projects we had been working at [the Georgia Department of Economic Development] prior to any decision being made on the bill.” Riley added, “Both projects cited Hb 757 as why they were removing Georgia from consideration.”
The announcement comes one day after the business coalition Georgia Prospers announced that more than 500 companies in the Peach State opposed H.B. 757. Georgia Prospers said its members believe that the state should build “a strong business brand and high quality of life that provides an open and inclusive home for all.” Stoppage of the bill is a victory for Georgia’s LGBT community and shows the tremendous power of its business community when it unites to fight for social justice.