In a brief press conference today, Governor Nathan Deal vetoed HB 757, a bill that would have sanctioned discrimination in the name of "religious liberty."
"As I've said before, 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 in his statement. "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. This is about the character of our State and the character of its people."
The governor also asserted that broad religious liberty protections were best left to the First Amendment, as these protections are difficult to legislate on a state level.
"[The Founding Fathers] had previously proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that Man’s Creator had endowed all men 'with certain unalienable rights,' including 'Liberty' which embraces religious liberty," the governor said. "They made it clear that those liberties were given by God and not by man’s government. Therefore, it was unnecessary to enumerate in statue or constitution what those liberties included."
In a press release, Americans United praised the governor for rejecting the measure.
“We thank the governor for his veto,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn. “Discrimination has no place in Georgia or any other state.”
Not everyone is pleased with Governor Deal's statement this morning. Some Georgia lawmakers are calling for a special session to overturn the governor's veto, an action that would require 108 House members and 34 Senate members to return to the capitol and declare in writing that "in their opinion an emergency exists in the affairs of the state." From there, an override would require a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House.