Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (Rep.) announced his veto House Bill 757 on Monday, March 28 at a news conference in Atlanta. Pinned the “religious liberty bill,” the legislation would have enumerated faith-based organizations and religious leaders for choosing to refuse service or employment they find contradictory to their religious beliefs.
“HB 757 doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of our people,” said Deal at the news conference.
The bill was said to be “anti-LGBT” because it would allow businesses to deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. Deal cited that the bill “contained language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination.”
Conjecture about how this bill would negatively affect the economy surfaced. Corporations including Disney, Netflix and Apple, among others, all threatened the removal of business from the state upon passing of the bill. The NFL said passing this bill could cost the state an opportunity to host a future Super Bowl.
Deal did not cite these pressures as the reason for his veto.
“This 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,” Deal said about his veto decision. “I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason I will veto House Bill 757.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy and political lobbying organization in the nation, wrote an open letter to Deal on March 24 urging him to not sign the bill. It described Georgia as the “Hollywood of the South” and emphasized how heavily the state economy relies on funds from production and the movie industry.
“We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law,” said the letter.
Authors included actor Matt Bomer, actress Anne Hathaway, producer Ryan Murphy and dozens of other producers, writers, actors and directors.
Georgia Sen. Mike Crane (Rep.) called for a special session in hopes to override Deal’s veto. A three-fifth’s majority in the Georgia House of Representative and Senate to establish a “veto session.” If the session is called, a two-third’s majority in both chambers will override the veto.
State Sen. Bill Heath told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on March 28 that he “will call for a veto session.”
“And we have the votes,” said Heath.