Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to veto the only religious liberty bill to clear the General Assembly this year, House Bill 757, won wide praise from businesses, LGBT advocacy groups, tourism organizations and others.
After Deal announced his veto of the Free Exercise Protection Act on Monday, March 28, the Southeast Region of the Anti-Defamation League and SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity joined the cheers for the governor.
Deal chose “to be on the right side of history by vetoing House Bill 757,” ADL Southeast Region Director Mark Moskowitz said in a statement. “This unjust legislation would have authorized discrimination against LGBT people and others in the marketplace, as well as in receipt of public and social services. The governor’s decision sends the resounding message that in Georgia government cannot sanction or support discrimination.”
Moskowitz urged the legislature to respond by passing anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation next year.
Rebecca Stapel-Wax, the executive director of SOJOURN, expressed concern in a statement that something like H.B. 757 will be introduced next year, but “we are confident in the growing number of Georgians who understand that equal rights cannot be afforded only to some. … While this is a victory over overt religious discrimination, there are still basic struggles that people have to fight every day, and our work is far from finished. We will continue to partner with Georgia Equality, Georgia Unites and our entire coalition to bring full legal equality to LGBTQ Georgians across the state.”
That coalition is going ahead with a planned rally at noon Tuesday, April 5, at the Capitol’s Liberty Plaza but will be celebrating instead of demanding the veto while calling for a state civil rights law that protects all.