Georgia Governor Vetoes Religious-Exemptions Bill

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Georgia Governor Nathan DealPhoto: Davis Turner/2014 Getty Images

Georgia governor Nathan Deal has nixed the religious-exemption bill that his state’s legislature passed two weeks ago. His veto, on Monday, comes after major companies — including Disney and the NFL — voiced strong opposition to the legislation, which would have allowed individuals and faith-based groups to deny certain services to and refuse to hire gay or transgender people, if doing so violated their religious beliefs.

I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia of which my family and I are a part of for all of our lives,” Governor Deal said, somewhat ungrammatically, when announcing his decision to kill the bill known as HB 757. “Our actions … are not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia. This is about the character of our State and the character of its people.”

It’s also come down to money. Disney, which has taken advantage of some generous filming tax breaks in the state, threatened to pull its business if the governor signed the legislation into law. The Atlanta Falcons organization also knocked the bill, and the NFL hinted that its passage might hurt Atlanta’s chances to host the Super Bowl in a new $1.4 billion stadium. Coca-Cola and Delta, along with other corporations that have big footprints in Georgia, also spoke out against it.

The Atlanta Journal-Constutution reports that some conservative lawmakers may try to override the governor’s veto, but it seems unlikely that they’ll have enough votes to call a special session (requiring a three-fifths vote in each house) or to formally overturn his decision (a two-thirds vote).