Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal — under pressure from corporations that do business in the state — said Monday that he vetoed a bill that many said would allow LGBT discrimination.
Critics argued that House Bill 757 was designed to allow people and certain religious organizations to deny certain services to LGBT people. It would also protect religious groups from being penalized if they decline to employ someone for religious reasons.
"HB 757 doesn't reflect the character of our state or the character of our people," Deal said at a news conference Monday.
Supporters of the bill argued the bill was meant to protect religious freedom.
"Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind, and generous people," Deal said today. "And that is what we should want."
"They choose to worship God in the way they see fit ... I believe that is our best side," he said. "And our people every day work side by side without regard to the color of their skin of their fellow mate or the religion that their co-worker might adhere to. They are simply trying to make life better for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way."
"We applaud today's veto by Governor Deal and thank him for his willingness to listen to the voices explaining the damage this bill could have caused," Lambda Legal said in a statement. "In the end, Governor Deal did not allow hate and fear-mongering to dictate state policy."
Several Hollywood companies threatened to move productions out of the state if the bill was passed, including AMC Networks, which films The Walking Dead in Georgia.
Last week a number of Hollywood actors, including Anne Hathaway and Julianne Moore, sent a letter to Deal through the Human Rights Campaign saying they would not work in Georgia if the bill was passed.
"We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law," the letter states.
The National Football League also suggested Atlanta could potentially lose the chance to host a future Super Bowl bid over the bill.
"NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News when asked about the bill.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.