Deal sends mixed signals on fate of anti-gay bill

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Gov. Nathan Deal spoke out for the first time since a new anti-gay “religious freedom” bill was passed, offering mixed signals about the legislation and declining to say if the bill discriminates against LGBT Georgians. 

Deal's statements to the AJC and WSB on Friday marked his first since the General Assembly passed a rewritten House Bill 757 two days earlier. LGBT critics blasted the measure as “a license to discriminate” and Deal faces a growing backlash over the legislation. 

Earlier this month, Deal issued a heartfelt, biblical case against “religious freedom” legislation and said he would reject any bill that “allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith.”

But on Friday, Deal avoided a question asking if the legislation legalized discrimination, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It does, though Deal's opinion is really the only one that counts at this point. He has until May 3 to take action on the bill. 

He told our AJC colleague Laura Diaz that he plans on reviewing the measure in April but that he won’t telegraph his intentions. Deal, who earlier warned that he would reject any measure that he believed amounted to legalized discrimination, ducked a question over whether he thought this version crossed that line.

“I have heard from both sides and I’m sure I’ll continue to hear from both sides,” he told Diaz. “I will take their opinions into consideration, and I’ll do what I’m required to do: Which is to make the difficult decision on a very difficult subject.”

Deal also offered comments to WSB, which should make LGBT activists nervous. Deal has talked tough about “religious freedom” legislation not harming LGBT people before, only to backtrack.

 

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