Great news coming out of Georgia! Gov. Nathan Deal has vetoed the controversial anti-gay bill that would have allowed churches and other faith-based organizations to refuse performing same-sex marriages. The bill would have also given people the right to refuse service and even employment to anyone “whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.”
The bill passed the Georgia’s state legislature last week and became controversial on day one. Major companies and organizations from across the nation spoke out against it and even threatened to move production to other states if Gov. Deal had chosen to sign the bill into law.
At a news conference this morning, Gov. Deal stated, “I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia.”
We must confess that if companies like Coca-Cola and big names from the film-industry hadn’t mobilized and confronted the governor, the bill would’ve stood a big chance to become law.
I just wanted to share the good news with all of you. Today is a good day.
As a lot of you probably heard, Georgia’s state legislature recently passed a controversial “religious liberty” bill. If signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, this bill will allow churches and other faith-based organizations to refuse to perform same-sex weddings, a clear challenge to last year’s Supreme Court historical ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. But that’s not all (come on guys, it’s Georgia politics, did you really think that was gonna be it?). The bill would also make it legal for any individual or organization to deny service and employment to anyone “whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” In other words if the bill becomes law and you are gay, muslim, or belong to any other group deemed undesirable in the eyes of Georgia’s overwhelming religious majority (Protestants and Catholics make up nearly 85% of the population in the state), you might want to start thinking about the possibility of moving.
The passage of this bill is nothing more than a disgraceful challenge to progress and to a society that has worked very hard to overcome its prejudice in recent years. A lot of us were confident that the Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodges would put an end to centuries of mistreatment and discrimination against gay Americans, but boy we were wrong.
What must the rest of the world be thinking? I’m sure countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Morocco and Somalia have already phoned the leaders of Georgia’s legislature to congratulate them on their bold move to curtail the rights of the people of Georgia, and if you stand in support of one of these countries for their ongoing attempts to ensure human rights completely vanish from the face of the earth, then I guess it’s been a pretty good week for you. On the other hand, I doubt countries like Denmark, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, or the Netherlands will be very pleased to hear the news coming out of the Peach State. But then again, when was the last time the United States went to Europe looking for answers?
For all of its economic and technological progress, this country always finds a way to bring shame upon itself in the human rights arena. From the outrageous number of minority populations incarcerated to the increasingly common cases of police brutality against African-Americans, the United States continues to baffle its allies in the west when it comes to social issues. But why? What is it about this country that makes it so easy for bigots and racists to infiltrate the system? I’ve met people from all corners of this country and I know that the vast majority of them are kind, open-minded individuals who would never accept laws such as the one being proposed by Georgia’s legislature. Sure, there are plenty of religious folks in this country who aren’t ready to accept same-sex marriage, and although I could never support their position on this issue, I kinda understand that they simply don’t see gay marriage as being compatible with their religious believes. But refusing to serve someone at a restaurant or a grocery store just because they happen to be gay? Are they for real?
I think the answer to this nonsense can be found in a corrupt system that yields too much power to special interests and lobbyists. I sincerely believe that if the future of public officials in America relied solely on the people and not on interest groups knocking on doors, laws like these would become far less common. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that kind of country.
Gov. Deal said he would make a decision on the controversial bill within 30 days, but he’s already beginning to feel the pressure of the pro-gay rights movement on his shoulders.
Disney, 21st Century Fox and other prominent names from the film-making industry have already threatened to leave the state and move their productions elsewhere if the governor chooses to sign the anti-gay bill into law. But these are not the only big names speaking out and urging the governor to exercise his veto powers. Coca-Cola has also added its name to a pledge against the discriminatory bill.
Whatever Gov. Deal decides to do, Georgia will have already added a new stain to the South’s dreadful civil rights record. Now all we can do is fight and hope that intolerant, hate-filled bills such as the one passed by Georgia’s state legislature don’t find their way into the political system in the future.