Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in March vetoed H.B. 757, a so-called “religious freedom” bill that opponents said could have allowed any individual or “faith-based” business, non-profit entity or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage.
“All it does is it makes sure that the government is not going to punish people of faith,” State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) told Fox 10, a local TV channel.
The bill’s critics disagreed. Americans United’s Legislative Department urged lawmakers to oppose the bill because it was so broadly written it could have permitted discrimination against LGBT people and others.
Several major corporations, including Salesforce, Apple and Disney, threatened to boycott or end business operations in the state; the National Football League announced that Atlanta’s future chances of hosting a Super Bowl would be in jeopardy if Deal signed the bill.
After a national outcry, Deal announced his veto on March 28.
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part for all of our lives,” Deal said during a press conference. “I believe it is 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.”