By Maria Puente
Was it the Hollywood threat to boycott Georgia or the NFL threat to withhold a Super Bowl? Gov. Nathan Deal didn’t say Monday as he vetoed a bill that a chorus of major studios, sports leagues and business leaders denounced as legalizing discrimination against gay people.
Instead, Deal cited the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the First Amendment, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and the fact that the “religious liberty” bill proposed to fix a problem that didn’t exist in Georgia, when he posted his veto message on his website.
“Therefore, as I have examined the protections this bill seeks to provide to religious organizations and people of faith I can find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia,” he said.
“I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” he added.
As for all the threats over the last two weeks since the legislation was passed, Deal dismissed them outright.
“Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character,” he said. “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.”
Previously, Deal, a Republican, had said positive things about the purpose of bill, which would have allowed people and businesses to deny services to gay people if it was based on religious belief.
The prospect was so alarming the NFL hinted a threat to sack Atlanta for a future Super Bowl, and a host of Hollywood studios, stars and filmmakers rushed last week to threaten to evacuate their $1 billion business from “Hollywood South.”
Deal said the bill allowed outsiders to cast doubt on the character of Georgia and Georgians.
“Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people,” he said. “Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to…That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.”
Source: USA Today