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Georgia Governor to Veto ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill: How Will It Impact LGBT Community?

flickr/Georgia National Guard

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that he is going to veto a religious liberty bill. The move is considered as a significant victory for the LGBT rights. Deal said he thinks that the bill was not really required.

House Bill 757 would have given faith-based organizations the right to deny jobs to the LGBT community. Critics of the bill argued that it would have promoted discrimination against the group. However, supporters said that it would protect religious freedom, reported CNN.

But the Georgia governor said, “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.”

He added that he had not taken the decision under pressure from faith-based communities nor taken the time to respond to the business community.

He further noted, “Our actions on HB 757 are not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia. This is about the character of our state and the character of its people. Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people.”

Timothy Holbrook, a professor of law at Emory University School of Law, prior to Deal’s announcement, stated in his CNN article that he was optimistic about Deal’s decision. He said that he hoped the Governor would choose not to follow the footsteps of politicians from Indiana or North Carolina.

He said, “Let’s hope that Governor Deal chooses a legacy of inclusion, not exclusion, and vetoes this bill.”

Disney is one of the first companies that opposed the bill and said that it would pull its existing business out of the state if the bill was signed. The company hailed the move by the Georgian governor.

A spokesperson from Disney stated, “We applaud Governor Deal for making the right decision on this piece of legislation and look forward to continuing our film production in Georgia.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, “ Today, Governor Deal heard the voices of Georgians, civil rights organizations, as well as the many leaders in the entertainment industry and private sector who condemned this attack on the fundamental rights of LGBT people, and he has set an example for other elected officials to follow.”

However, challenges are far from over for Deal and the people against the house bill. The legislature is passed by an overwhelming majority and unless some lawmaker switches sides, the bill can be passed overriding Deal’s veto, as reported by Slate.

Discrimination against LGBT community is rampant across the globe. A study recently showed that a third of adolescents  are still suffering discrimination, harassment and assault. Thus, they have the highest risk of developing mental health problems.

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