Ga. Gov to Veto 'Religious Liberty' Bill
'Georgia is a welcoming state ... full of loving, kind, generous people': Nathan Deal
By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2016 10:38 AM CDT
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks in Atlanta Monday during a press conference to announce he has vetoed legislation allowing clergy to refuse performing gay marriage and protecting people who refuse to...   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(Newser) – Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal says he'll veto the "religious liberty" bill passed by his state's Legislature nearly two weeks ago, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Deal said in a press conference Monday at the state Capitol that House Bill 757—which would have allowed religious leaders to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, as well as permitted faith-based groups to not rent to people for "objectionable" events or to fire people whose religious beliefs conflicted with their own—goes against Georgia's reputation. The bill had led to threats of economic repercussions from the likes of Coca-Cola, Google, and Microsoft.

"[My decision was] about the character of our state and the character of our people," he said, per CNN. "Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind, and generous people." He also noted the irony of people who push for the freedoms granted by the First Amendment but also call for the government to get involved in legislating those freedoms. "Perhaps we should heed the hands-off admonition of the First Amendment," he said. As an apparent preemptive strike against critics who may be tempted to strong-arm him about his decision, he added, "I don't respond well to insults or threats." (North Carolina is embroiled in a battle regarding transgender people using bathrooms.)