Georgia Governor Nathan Deal says he will veto the “religious liberty” bill that critics said would open the door to anti-gay discrimination.
The bill was placed under a month of debate and revisions before state officials passed the measure earlier this month.
Under terms of the bill, faith-based organizations would be allowed to deny social, educational, and charitable services based on a “sincerely held religious belief” relating to marriage.
That means religious organizations could have cited religious beliefs while making employment decisions. The bill defines faith-based organizations as churches, religious schools and mission groups.
Critics worried that the language in the bill could have also covered businesses, hospitals, adoption centers and homeless shelters, among other groups.
Following news of the bill, Disney threatened to pull out of the state’s $6 billion entertainment business. Other companies including Salesforce, AMC, Marvel, and CNN, threatened to pull their business from the state if the Governor signed the bill into law.
The Republican-backed legislation was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives on March 16, and passed through the Senate hours later.
Republican State Senator Greg Kirk blamed last years Supreme Court decision to grant same-sex couples the right to marriage as the motivation for the bill.
“When the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage, there was a need for this law,” Kirk said on the Senate floor. “And it took Georgia to lead the way for the rest of the country to put this law together.”
Democratic State Senator Harold Jones spoke out against the bill when it was introduced.
“The Supreme Court has decided that marriage is a fundamental right, and we’re debating infringing on that fundamental right.”
“We’re not debating about your point of view or my point of view. We’re having a debate about what the Supreme Court of this country has said is a fundamental right,” he added.
Earlier in the month the Governor promised to veto any bill that sanctions discrimination in his state.