Gov. Nathan Deal said he will veto the "religious liberty" bill that triggered a wave of criticism from gay rights groups and business leaders and presented him with one of the most consequential challenges he's faced since his election to Georgia's top office. The measure "doesn't reflect the character of our state or the character of its people," the governor said Monday in prepared remarks. He said state legislators should leave freedom of religion and freedom of speech to the U.S. Constitution.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) had a decision to make. His allies in the Republican-led Georgia legislature recently passed a "religious liberty" bill intended to curtail LGBT rights in the state, and the measure was backed by Deal's social-conservative friends. At the same time, however, business leaders throughout Georgia balked and pressured the governor to veto the legislation.
Which ally would Deal disappoint? The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported this morning on the governor's decision.
In the same remarks, the governor urged his fellow Republicans to take a deep breath and "recognize that the world is changing around us."
Deal was re-elected to a second term in 2014, is prevented by term limits from seeking a third, and has said he has no interest in running for any other office. I mention this because, while the religious right is furious this morning, these far-right activists won't be able to impose any kind of electoral punishments on Georgia's GOP governor.
It made it easier for Deal to side with private-sector leaders, who vowed to punish Georgia economically if the state moved forward with a bill that discriminates against LGBT Americans.
As for the road ahead, some of the bill's proponents in the state legislature are planning to move forward with an effort to override the governor's veto, but even Georgians who support the move are skeptical that the votes will be there.
And if you're just catching up on what this story is all about, Vox published a good overview on the bill's individual provisions.