'License to discriminate' bill in GA to be vetoed

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has said that he will veto Georgia’s House Bill 757, which would have allowed any person or faith-based organization (including nonprofits, charities, schools, universities, and hospitals) to cite “religious beliefs” as justification to discriminate against others, including LGBT Georgians. House Bill 757 was quickly passed without warning on March 17.

“No one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Today, Governor Deal stood on the right side of history and sent a clear message to the nation that hate is not a value of the Peach State. Other legislators must now take notice that corporate America, Hollywood, and everyday citizens demand acceptance and won’t tolerate writing discrimination into law.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

The measure “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people,” the governor said Monday in prepared remarks. He said state legislators should leave freedom of religion and freedom of speech to the U.S. Constitution.

“Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it would allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment,” he said.

The two-term Republican has been besieged by all sides over the controversial measure, and his office has received thousands of emails and hundreds of calls on the debate. The tension was amplified by a steady stream of corporate titans who urged him to veto the bill – and threatened to pull investments from Georgia if it became law.

Thousands of people signed GLAAD’s petition, calling on Governor Deal to veto the bill.

Strong backlash to the bill came from LGBT leaders, and the business community, including Georgia’s growing entertainment industry. The NFL warned that Atlanta may not get a future Super Bowl bid if the bill was signed into law. Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff warned that Salesforce will have to consider relocation if the bill was signed into law.

The response from celebrities and the companies that film in Georgia built steadily over the last week. Disney, Marvel, AMC Networks, Viacom, Time Warner, Sony, Lionsgate, 21st Century Fox, And The Weinstein Company all spoke out last week. Additionally, individual celebrities spoke out, including Tituss Burgess, Wilson Cruz, Chase Chrisley, Daniel Franzese, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Kat Graham.