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Georgia Governor to Veto Religious Liberty Bill

flag-36423_640After last week’s passage and signature of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which discriminates against transgender individuals, North Carolina and other states who have adopted or are considering similarly discriminatory laws have come under intense scrutiny and pressure from businesses opposed to laws that discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

On March 28, 2016, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced he will veto a “religious liberties” bill, House Bill 757, which would allow church officials and faith-based groups to deny services to LGBT people based on a “sincerely held religious belief.” This proposed bill would essentially legalize discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the name of religious liberty. Such laws have been passed around the country and have received heightened attention since the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges held that gay marriage is legal under the U.S. Constitution last summer. Small businesses at various locations around the country have claimed that Obergefell has caused or created a violation of their religious beliefs. One Kentucky County Clerk went so far as to refuse to sign off on same-sex marriages due to her religious beliefs, for which she was briefly held in contempt and made a face of the conservative fight against marriage equality.

Georgia, a popular destination for shooting television shows and films due to favorable tax laws, has been the target of heated backlash and threatened boycotts because of House Bill 757. Disney (including its Marvel subsidiary), Apple, Dell, Time Warner, AMC Networks (which films The Walking Dead in Georgia) and other companies all strongly urged Governor Deal to veto the measure. The Governor, in a press conference Monday, acceded to the encouragement of these businesses and many individuals to veto the bill.

Governor Deal stated,

“Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people. And that is what we should want. They choose to worship God in the way they see fit in a myriad of ways, in a variety of different settings. I believe that that is our best side. And our people, every day, work side by side without regard to the color of their skin of their fellow mate. Or the religion that their co-worker might adhere to. They are simply trying to make life better for themselves, their families and their communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto House Bill 757.”

All of the attorneys at The Erlich Law Office, PLLC are proud members of the Virginia Equality Bar Association, an association that seeks to secure equality for the LGBT community and opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We have represented LGBT individuals in a variety of cases including discrimination in employment and civil rights cases regarding police treatment. If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed for these reasons in the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Virginia, please contact us today.

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