Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial religious liberties bill today, two weeks after the state’s legislature passed it. Deal, having already expressed discomfort with the bill, came under pressure on many fronts from groups opposing the bill, most notably the NFL threatening to move the Super Bowl out of Atlanta and numerous television and film productions working in the state.
If signed into law, the bill would have allowed pastors to opt out of performing same-sex marriages and would have given religious organizations the ability to refuse services, including charitable ones, if it clashed with their religious beliefs. These organizations would also have been allowed to apply their beliefs to govern hiring and firing decisions.
Gay rights groups argued that areas of the measure were essentially legalizing discrimination by allowing organizations that receive taxpayer funding to deny employment to gay and transgender people. Large companies like AT&T, Bank of America, and Google echoed these sentiments.
Governor Deal, who is part of the faith-based community in Georgia and has been receiving backlash from conservative peers, said in his statement that he does not think they have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based communities and that Georgia is a welcoming state.