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In the midst of growing controversy surrounding Georgia’s recently approved Free Exercise Protection Act, Gov. Nathan Deal decided to veto the legislation during a press conference at the state capitol Monday.
Deal said that House Bill 757 doesn’t reflect the reputation of the state as being populated by “warm, friendly and loving people.”
The legislation, had it been signed into law, would have protected faith-based businesses that refuse to provide services that they believe violate their religious beliefs. Critics of the bill referred to it as simply being anti-gay.
“Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to,” he said. “We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way,” he said. “For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported:
The two-term Republican has been besieged by all sides over the controversial measure, and his office has received thousands of emails and hundreds of calls on the debate. The tension was amplified by a steady stream of corporate titans who urged him to veto the bill – and threatened to pull investments from Georgia if it became law.
The governor’s planned veto will likely infuriate religious conservatives who considered the measure, House Bill 757, their top priority. This is the third legislative session they’ve sought to strengthen legal protections from opponents of gay marriage, but last year’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex weddings galvanized their efforts.
Shortly after the bill made it through the legislative process, Hollywood reacted to it by calling upon Deal to veto the legislation under threat of boycott. Those groups included the Walt Disney Co. and AMC, which produces the hit series “The Walking Dead,” which is filmed in the Peach State.
Georgia Sen. Bill Heath, described as one of the senate’s most conservative lawmakers, said he believes that he has the votes to override Deal’s veto.
“We will call for a veto session,” Heath said, according to the Atlanta daily. “And we have the votes.”
Watch the governor’s remarks below via ABC News.
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