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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 1, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 14
Georgia and Virginia governors veto RFRAs
Section One
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Georgia and Virginia governors veto RFRAs

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The governors of Georgia and Virginia have vetoed so-called 'religious freedom' bills that would have legalized discrimination against their states' LGBT communities.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Nathan Deal acted first, on March 28.

'I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives,' he told reporters.

Deal denied he was caving to pressure from business groups, although many threatened to boycott Georgia if he signed the measure and warned Georgia could lose investments and jobs as a result.

His decision, Deal said, was 'about the character of our state and the character of our people. Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind, and generous people.

'I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason I will veto House Bill 757.'

Georgia Sen. Mike Crane, who sponsored the bill, called for a special session to override Deal's veto, but he appears to lack the votes to do so.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a three-fifths majority in the House and Senate is needed to call a special session, and an override requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

The bill fell short of that threshold by one vote in the Senate and 16 in the House, the newspaper reported.

Virginia's Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed his state's 'religious freedom' bill, passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature, on March 30.

McAuliffe said in a statement that Virginia's SB 41 is 'nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.'

'This legislation is also bad for business and creates roadblocks as we try to build the new Virginia economy,' he said. 'Businesses and job creators do not want to locate or do business in states that appear more concerned with demonizing people than with creating a strong business climate.

'Legislation that immunizes the discriminatory actions of certain people and institutions at the expense of same-sex couples would damage Virginia's reputation for commonsense, pro-business government.

'We need only look at the damage these types of laws are doing in other states to understand the harm this bill could bring to our Commonwealth and its economy.'

James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, applauded McAuliffe for 'fulfilling his promise to veto this discriminatory and destructive bill.

'[SB 41] sought to blatantly and directly discriminate against gay and lesbian couples and families under the guise of religious freedom,' Parrish said.

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