Gov. Nathan Deal (R) announced at a press conference Monday morning that he would veto HB 757, a “religious liberty” bill that would enable, among other things, organizations like adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples without jeopardizing their state funding.
Deal explained that he found the language in the final version of the bill of “concern,” noting that it could enable some forms of state-sanctioned discrimination. He cited the examples of photographers and bakers who were punished for refusing to serve same-sex couples in other states, adding that he knew of no such examples of that taking place in Georgia, in particular because the state doesn’t offer the same nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation.
“In light of our history, I find it somewhat ironic, that some in the religious community today feel it necessary for the government to confer upon them certain rights and protections,” he said. He reasoned that the Declaration of Independence said that such rights come from “our Creator,” not from the government, and any protections individuals might think they need would be guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Deal seemed to be implying that stipulating a right to discriminate might actually read more into those protections than was intended by the Founding Fathers.
Addressing the the many businesses who warned they would pull their business from the state if the bill became law, Deal said, “I do not respond very well to insults or to threats.” But he acknowledged that Georgia should be a place people want to live and work, and he would not support a law that countered that principle.
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based communities of Georgia… Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind, and generous people. And that’s what we should want.”
Deal took no questions following his statement.