VICTORY: Georgia Governor Deal Will Veto Sweeping Anti-LGBT BillBy Adam Polaski • March 28, 2016 • 10:13 am
Today at a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that he will veto HB 757, discriminatory legislation that proposed to allow some taxpayer-funded organizations to deny employment or services to LGBT people and others, even endangering existing local nondiscrimination ordinances across the state. Governor Deal’s veto came after an unprecedented national backlash against the bill, which drew condemnation from businesses, athletic organizations, the entertainment industry, people of faith, conservatives, legal experts and others.
Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:
Governor Deal’s veto of HB 757 represents a tremendous victory not just for LGBT people, but for everyone who believes that fairness and equality under the law are hallmarks of our nation. HB 757, like so many similar bills, gambled Georgia’s economy, reputation and the livelihood of so many of its residents – all for the sake of advancing discrimination. We thank Governor Deal for doing the right thing. The governor understands that while our freedom of religion is of critical importance, it doesn’t mean there’s a need for harmful exemptions that can lead to discrimination.”
Nearly 500 corporations spoke out against HB 757 through the Georgia Prospers coalition, which includes major brands such as AT&T, Bank of America, Deloitte, Delta, Dow Chemical, EquiFax, Facebook, First Data, the Georgia Restaurant Association, Google, Home Depot, Marriott, PNC, Porsche, SunTrust, Turner, United, UPS, Verizon and WellsFargo. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber spoke out against the legislation; while other business voices – such as Salesforce and 373k – threatened to relocate or reduce investments if the bill became law.
It wasn’t just the business community. The NFL spoke out against the discriminatory legislation and declared it may hurt Atlanta’s bid to host a Super Bowl. And the state’s major sports teams – including the Braves, Falcons and Hawks – all opposed the bill. Hollywood also joined in, making it clear that the License to Discriminate legislation jeopardized Georgia’s burgeoning film industry. Disney and Marvel said they would stop filming in the state if the bill became law; while countless other studios and networks opposed the legislation – including AMC, 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate, Sony, MGM, Netflix, STX Entertainment, CBS, Open Road Films, Amblin Partners, Discovery Communications and NBC.
Despite the historic significance of today’s veto, much work remains in Georgia. LGBT people still lack comprehensive nondiscrimination protections at the state level in areas including employment, public accommodations and housing.
McTighe continued today: “After years of debate, this discriminatory legislation finally met the fate it deserved. Today’s veto should send a message to other states that discrimination damages a state’s economy, and that these bills cannot move unnoticed. It’s now time for us to turn our attention to how we can protect all Georgians from discrimination – including those who are LGBT. A strong majority of Georgians favor expanding comprehensive nondiscrimination protections, and that critical work now continues with renewed determination.”
Freedom for All Americans is proud to have partnered with local and national organizations to defeat an array of discriminatory bills in Georgia over the last two years, laying the groundwork for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections. FFAA has engaged through both the Georgia Unites Against Discrimination and Georgia Prospers coalitions, lending regular lobbying and communications support through our States Action Team. FFAA activated its Digital Action Center and National Equality Action Team to generate grassroots education, engagement and mobilization around HB 757 online and on the ground. FFAA will continue working to advance nondiscrimination protections in Georgia and defeat any future discriminatory bills.