Gov. Nathan Deal sent a message to religious conservatives and Republican lawmakers who want to pass "religious freedom" legislation this session: Don't bother.
Backers of the anti-LGBT legislation have been clamoring to revive it. Supporters of the legislation recently held a pep rally at the State Capitol and a handful of lawmakers have threatened to introduce a version of "religious freedom" legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to ban LGBT people from adopting.
Deal, a Republican, vetoed a sweeping anti-LGBT bill in 2016. He spoke out strongly against the legislation in 2017. And on Tuesday, he came out swinging against it – again.
Any effort to pass a religious liberty measure stands little chance in Deal’s final year in office.
The governor vetoed a major religious liberty proposal in 2016, and during an interview Tuesday, he expressed deep-seated opposition to any similar measures that might be proposed during this legislative session. The governor said they could be “harmful” to the state’s chances of landing new corporate giants.
“It’s one of those things that presents a cloud over the minds of people who might otherwise be looking at our state. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes those are the realities that we all have to deal with,” he said. “I don’t see any reason at this point in time to create any potential impediments to job opportunities for our children and job opportunities for their children.”
Will fellow Republicans heed Deal's warning? Prominent GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Fran Millar and Renee Unterman, already have. But Sen. Marty Harbin, who introduced "religious freedom" legislation last year, is unlikely to walk back his bill.
Deal, though, is joined by House Speaker David Ralston, who has said revisiting "religious freedom" legislation is "not very productive."