Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed discrimination of same-sex couples, The New York Times reports.
The proposal, known as House Bill 757, was supported by religious groups and organizations who wanted protection for denying service to those whose religious beliefs are different from their own. If passed, the bill would have allowed the refusal of jobs and services without legal ramifications.
Speaking at the state capital Monday morning, Deal said the bill does not accurately portray the state of Georgia, which champions equal opportunities and employment for all of its citizens.
“Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to,” Deal said. “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. For that reason, I will veto HB 757. I don’t respond well to insults or threats.
The bill was criticized by member members of Hollywood, including producers and directors like Lee Daniels (Empire) and Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs). Actresses like Zoe Kravitz (Dope) and Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games) threatened not to film or work in the state, potentially damaging their cinematic economy. Large organizations such as Coca-Cola and the National Football League also followed with warnings of protest. AMC Networks, which films the popular series The Walking Dead in Georgia, threatened to walk as well.
Prior to the Governor’s announcement, State Representative Stacey Abrams (D-89) joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the Religious Freedom Bill and the economic backlash as a result of the discriminatory legislation.
Rep. Abrams told Martin, “Georgia has seen a multi-billion dollar impact. The Walking Dead is filmed here, The Fast and The Furious movies were filmed here — it employs people across the state and so when you hear the threats, it’s not simply Atlanta, it’s the entire state of Georgia – from the mountains to the coast – that stand to lose millions and billions in business every year if we become a pariah in the film industry.”
Gay rights groups argued the bill was another form of discrimination using religion as a cover.
“Our message to Governor Nathan Deal was loud and clear: This deplorable legislation was bad for his constituents, bad for business and bad for Georgia’s future,” Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, said in a statement. “Today, Governor Deal heard the voices of Georgians, civil rights organizations, as well as the many leaders in the entertainment industry and private sector who condemned this attack on the fundamental rights of L.G.B.T. people, and he has set an example for other elected officials to follow.”
Thousands of supporters of the bill sent emails and letters to Deal about his decision, claiming it was presented to offer equal protection for all Georgians. But the move to dismiss the bill wasn’t surprising; Deal previously stated he wouldn’t accept laws that “allow discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith.”
According to the AJC:
Already, several conservative lawmakers have vowed to call for a “veto session” to rebuke the governor if he rejects the measure. It takes a three-fifth majority in both chambers to call a special session, and a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a veto — a threshold the bill failed to reach by one vote in the Senate and 16 in the House.
Deal, whose term isn’t up until 2019, is a Southern Baptist, and asked that everyone “recognize that the world is changing around us.”
Watch Roland Martin and State Representative Stacey Abrams discuss Georgia’s controversial Religious Liberty Bill in the video clip above.
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