ATLANTA—Georgia Governor Nathan Deal bucked the wishes of his party and averted probable boycotts by major corporations on Monday by vetoing House Bill 757—a so-called "religious freedom" bill passed by Republicans in the state that was hotly contested by people all over the country.
"I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia," Deal said.
The fiercely contested bill, which drew nationwide outcry from LGBT equality advocates and Hollywood, would have allowed "faith groups" to discriminate against LGBT people in the state by denying them service or employment.
All but 11 Republicans in the Georgia House and Senate voted to pass H.B. 757; all Democrats opposed it.
Deal said he could "find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia."
The vague verbiage of the bill would have allowed bias against LGBT residents by virtually anyone. Coca-Cola and other prominent Georgia companies joined heavyweight Hollywood figures in urging Deal not to sign the measure into law. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood—from actors and directors to major TV and movie studios—called on Deal to veto the atrocious anti-LGBT bill. Stars including Julianne Moore, Anne Hathaway, Lee Daniels, Ryan Murphy and Kristin Chenoweth sent a letter to Atlanta urging him to be on the right side of history and abstain from signing. Additionally, entertainment conglomerates such as Marvel, Disney, Netflix, CBS Corporation, Fox, Lionsgate, Sony, AMC, the Weinstein Company, NBC Universal, MGM and Discovery all issued statements expressing extreme disappointment over the proposed measure, threatening to move production out of the Peach State if the Governor signed H.B. 757 into law. The NFL also said the bill's signing would be a factor in choosing whether Atlanta hosts the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl.
Similar yet even more draconian legislation recently passed in North Carolina and is drawing equally negative national attention from LGBT equality advocates concerned about its potentially devastating effects.