*Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said he will veto the controversial religious liberty bill, which critics have denounced as anti-gay.
Gov. Deal said the bill doesn’t reflect “the character of our state and the character of our people,” in prepared remarks he gave on Monday, according to the AP. “Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people,” he said.
HB 757 would have allowed religious organizations to deny services to those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief.” The bill, entitled the Free Exercise Protection Act, received criticism from major Hollywood studios, who said it allowed for discrimination against LGBTQ people.
The entertainment industry has been growing in Georgia, due in large part to the state offering up to 30 percent tax incentives for TV and film productions. From July 1, 2014 to June 20, 2015 there were 248 feature film and television productions in the state, generating an economic impact of $6 billion.
Deal said he did not have problems with the “Pastor Protection Act” that said clergy of any faith would not be forced to perform religious ceremonies or acts contrary to their faith. However, he said he had problems with the other versions of the bill which “contained language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination.”
“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives,” said Deal. He said that even though the discrimination “may be unintentional” it is “too great a risk to take.”
He said that the bill has generated more “intense” feelings than most legislation.
“Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character,” said Deal. “Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state. I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion.”
Atlanta-based filmmaker Tyler Perry joined a large chorus of Hollywood players, networks and studios in speaking out against the bill.