Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who over the weekend tweeted his opposition to House Bill 757 issued a statement today regarding Governor Deal’s promised veto, saying he was glad to see state of Georgia was too busy to hate:
I am very glad to hear that Governor Nathan Deal decided to veto HB 757, Georgia’s Free Exercise Protection Act, formerly called the Pastor Protection Act. It was the right thing to do. In Atlanta we developed a motto during some of the darkest days of legalized segregation. We decided we were “the city too busy to hate.”
I am relieved that Gov. Deal decided to make it plain that the state of Georgia is also too busy to hate. There is not any room in our society for laws that open the door to discriminatory behavior. Religious freedom is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, by centuries of legal precedent in America, as well as by the recent decision of the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby v. Burwell.
It was edifying to see powerful forces in our state come together to keep this bill from becoming law. An interreligious coalition of 300 ministers and rabbis protested and declared they did not require the “protection” HB 757 was aimed at providing. Corporations also used their tremendous power to demonstrate their unwillingness to operate in a state that was not inclusive.
It says something about the distance we have come and the progress with have made that so many established forces in our community pulled together to stop discrimination from taking hold. It tells me that the values advanced by Martin Luther King Jr. are still reverberating in our society today, especially in the state where he was born, and in some cases, those values have been embraced as the standard of human decency.
Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams joined with several other Democraic House members expressing her appreciation to Governor Deal:
I applaud Governor Deal for vetoing this flawed and dangerous legislation. HB 757 would have enshrined discrimination in our state’s laws, to devastating effects on families and businesses in Georgia. Restricting the civil rights of any community does not reflect our values as Georgians, and I am encouraged that this bill will not become law.
Other Democratic House members applauding the veto threat include Rep. Taylor Bennett, who said, “The Governor’s veto is worth celebrating, and I am hopeful that we will continue work towards equality for all Georgians, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, or religious beliefs.” Rep Park Cannon, who is queer, said, “This veto is a major victory for the LGBTQ community in the south and proves that legally sanctioned discrimination has no place in our state.” The legislature’s first openly gay legislator, Karla Drenner, also weighed in. “While this is a victory for the LGBT community in Georgia, there is still much work that needs to be done to for Georgia to guarantee full equality for all. I believe Governor Deal’s veto is the step in the right direction.”
The Democratic Party of Georgia issued this statement, via its communications Director, Michael Smith:
We commend Gov. Deal on his decision to reject this discriminatory legislation. Leaders from both sides of the aisle and the business community, as well as the countless Georgians who spoke against the politics of exclusion, also deserve a great deal of thanks for standing firm in the belief that our state is better off when we all have full and equal protection under the law.
For Georgia to move forward, no one can be left behind. The full promise of tomorrow belongs to all of us, and it is up to all of us to ensure that this promise is within every Georgian’s reach.