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Georgia governor to veto controversial 'religious liberty' bill

[JURIST] Georgia Governor Nathan Deal [official website] said Monday that he will veto [press release] a controversial religious freedom bill [text]. HB 757 was given final legislative approval [JURIST report] earlier this month and awaited the governor's signature. The governor expressed concern that the bill "contained language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination." The legislation would have given "faith based organizations" the support of the state to deny jobs or services to members of the LGBTQ community based on sincerely held religious beliefs. The governor stated "I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives."

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been a controversial issue in the US. Last week North Carolina's governor signed [JURIST report] a bill that prevents local governments from enacting their own nondiscrimination ordinances. The law also requires public school students to use the school bathroom or locker room that corresponds tot their sex at birth. Also this month the Kentucky Senate approved a bill allowing businesses to refuse service [JURIST report] to gays and lesbians based upon their religious beliefs. Earlier in March South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have required public school students to use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their sex at birth. In December the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled [JURIST report] that sexual discrimination is prohibited under a law that protects gender-based discrimination. In November President Barack Obama expressed support [JURIST report] for legislation that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity through an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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