Americans United for Separation of Church and State today applauded Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a “religious freedom bill” that would have sanctioned discrimination in Georgia.
“We thank the governor for his veto,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Discrimination has no place in Georgia or any other state.”
The bill, H.B. 757, purported to preserve religious freedom, but Lynn noted that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already protects pastors and houses of worship that don’t want to preside at or host same-sex marriages.
Other provisions of the bill allowed non-profit groups to deny employment and services to people who offend their religious beliefs – even if those groups are taxpayer funded. Lynn says that goes too far and would have opened the door to broad forms of discrimination.
AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett said she’s glad that Deal listened to the people and businesses of Georgia and stayed true to his promise to reject a bill that allowed discrimination.
“We strongly support religious freedom, but that principle doesn’t mean the right to discriminate against or harm other Georgians,” Garrett said. “We hope that other states that are considering similar bills will heed the lessons learned from Georgia and reject discriminatory measures in their states.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.