Facing pressure from the LGBT community and a growing list of corporations that do business in the Peach State, Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed House Bill 757, which would have allowed Georgia businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBT community if they felt their religious beliefs were compromised.
Different versions of the bill have been met with scorn from the LGBT community, but they have gained popularity and we’ve even seen them be signed into law in recent months. Just last week, North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, signed a similar bill into law, earning his state the dubious distinction of passing one of the most homophobic laws in the country. The outcry has not necessarily been as loud as the one from Georgia, but it was made just the same. In fact, on Monday, March 28, the same day that Deal vetoed the bill in Georgia, several people at the University of North Carolina filed federal discrimination suits against the State of North Carolina, the governor, and several other prominent state employees, including the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina and the board’s chairman.
Back in Georgia, the Republican-controlled legislature easily passed Bill 757. However, the governor was faced with pressure from the NFL, which said it wouldn’t allow Atlanta to host Super Bowl if the law was signed; Disney, which said it would not film blockbuster movies there; and other businesses like SalesForce, one of the world’s largest customer relationship management corporations. Hotspots Editor Mike Halterman said, “There’s only one thing that these Republicans hate more than gays, and it’s losing money.” Like Georgia, Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, is controlled by Republicans. With over 5 million LGBT tourists a year and over one million LGBT residents, we should keep reminding Governor Rick Scott of just how powerful the gay dollar is here at home.
As a community, we must remain vigilant and we have to continue to make our voices heard. We may have won the battle of marriage equality, but the ongoing war on our community by right-wing bigots still goes on. The backlash against our community will continue but we have to counter it with our voices, and the voices of our allies, and we must hit these states where it hurts the most: in their pockets.