Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto ‘religious freedom’ bill

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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has announced he will veto a so-called “religious freedom” bill that has widely been condemned for its anti-gay provisions, saying the state does not have to discriminate against anyone to protect faith-based communities.

Deal said at a news conference on Monday that he had no objections to the “Pastor Protection Act” that was passed by the state’s House of Representatives, but noted that later versions of the bill contained language that would enable state-sanctioned discrimination.

“Our actions on HB 757 are not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia,” Deal said. “This is about the character of our State and the character of its people. Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people.”

A number of major companies, including Walt Disney and the NFL, had voiced their opposition against HB 757 after it passed both the state’s House and Senate, and some even threatened to pull their business from the state.

Under HB 757, a pastor would have the right to refuse performing a same-sex wedding, but other provisions would allow faith-based groups to not hire employees whose beliefs run counter to the organization’s, while churches and religious schools could reject events for people or groups whose beliefs they object.

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