Good news — Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced this morning that he will veto the so-called “religious liberty” bill recently passed by the state legislature.
In so many words, Governor Deal told the state legislature that they’re meddling in things they shouldn’t be.
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.
“Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it would allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment,” he said.
He’s not wrong but the truth may be more fiscal in nature.
The state has been threatened by a wide range of businesses, including deep pockets in Hollywood, who threatened to pull out of the state if the bill was signed into law.
I feel justified in my skepticism that Governor Deal would have vetoed the bill absent the threat of economic punishment. Money appears to be the only force that can persuade Republican governors not to sign similar bills that enable or codify discrimination. The governors of South Dakota and Tennessee have opposed attempts to codify anti-transgender discrimination into law because of the potential financial blow to their states.
Pressure had been mounting for weeks ahead of Governor Deal’s veto and that may have been key in his decision to do so. In North Carolina, a bill that enables discrimination for religious reasons and codifies anti-transgender discrimination into law was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor McCrory in a single day. There was no time for pressure to build against it.