A religious freedom Bill has been vetoed by the Governor of Georgia, after he was pressured by big businesses including Coca Cola, Apple and Disney.
The law would have protected pastors and organisations that support marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.
It did not protect groups involved in wedding professions, such as florists or bakers.
Republican State Senator Joshua McKoon said Governor Nathan Deal had “turned his back on millions and millions of people who have very real concerns about what their religious freedom looks like in the wake of a very fluid legal environment”.
The Bill was passed by the State’s Senate and House of Representatives, but Governor Deal vetoed it on Monday.
Ahead of his decision, companies including Coca Cola, Google, Unilever, Facebook, Twitter and UPS backed a pledge from a lobby group which was campaigning against the Bill.
In its own statement Disney threatened the Governor, saying that although it had previously had “great experiences filming in Georgia”, it would take its business away “should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law”.
The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddingsRyan T. Anderson
Apple urged the Governor to veto the “discriminatory legislation”. Media giant Viacom also called on the Governor to “reject the patently discriminatory laws being proposed”.
Ryan T. Anderson, a social commentator and author on marriage, described the legislation as “very modest”, noting that it did not offer protections for bakers, florists, and “similar wedding professionals”.
He stated: “The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Anderson wrote: “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and other religious freedom protections are needed against our contemporary overactive progressive government.”
He commented: “Businesses in Georgia were always free to embrace gay marriage—to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages and make floral arrangements for same-sex nuptials—and many do.
“But now activists want the government to force everyone in Georgia to do it.”