This morning, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed H757, also known as The Free Exercise Protection Act, a bill which would allow faith-based organizations to discriminate against LGBT individuals. The bill had become big news in the entertainment community, with a vast majority of the big studios threatening to pull TV and film production from the state if the governor had signed the bill. Georgia has become an integral part of Hollywood’s output, with 158 productions shooting there in 2015, due to the state’s extremely beneficial 30% rebate incentive.
While today's news is definitely being considered a victory for gay rights, and Hollywood is happy that it will not need to institute its potentially costly boycott of the state, this issue may not be over – and that includes a potential Hollywood boycott.
Governor Deal’s veto was not unexpected. Early this year, before the bill was reworded and passed the legislature, Deal signaled his distaste for the bill, going to so far as to reference his own religion and saying he didn’t believe Jesus would ever discriminate. Deal is also known to be extremely pro-business and has been largely credited for attracting and growing various industries in the state.
Joining the the movie industry’s threats to pull out, Deal was receiving pressure from Apple, Coca Cola, Delta Airlines and The National Football League, who are considering Atlanta as a potential Super Bowl host city. The biggest surprise of Deal's veto today is that he did not waste time – last week, his office signaled that he would examining H757 in April and would not need to make a decision until May.
Deal's actions today do not end the possibility that H757 will become law and that Hollywood will need to renew its boycott threats. however. This issue is extremely important to many Republican voters in the state, and with the primaries for state legislators taking place on May 24, it is very possible that an attempt to override the veto will take place. According to the New York Times, a veto was expected to trigger a heated legislative battle, especially in the House where Republican legislators were only 12 votes (104 to 65) shy of the two-thirds majority they need to override the governor’s veto.
"If the governor did make the decision to veto the bill, that most definitely does not end the debate," State Senator Josh McKoon told the Times. McKoon also indicated that even if the legislator fail to override Deal’s veto, it simply means that matter will become even more intense going into 2017.
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