Georgia governor says changes in works on religious exemptions bill

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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia‘s governor indicated Monday that changes are coming to a bill allowing faith-based organizations to refuse service to gay couples without repercussion.

Supporters say it’s intended to prevent religious adoption agencies, schools and other organizations from losing licenses, state grants, or other government benefits for their religious beliefs about same-sex marriage.

The state’s business community continued to marshal opposition to the proposal, wary of the type of economic backlash Indiana experienced following 2015 passage of a broader “religious freedom” law. At an event touting the state’s booming film and television industry, Gov. Nathan Deal said his office is working with legislative leaders and declined to say whether he supports the Senate-approved version.

“It is not finalized yet,” the Republican said, prompting applause from representatives of the film and television industry gathered in the Capitol.

The measure as approved by the Senate allows individuals and faith-based organizations to decline service to couples based on religious beliefs about marriage. Senate leaders added that language, originally from a separate Senate bill, to a House bill allowing religious officials to decline performing gay marriages.

Opponents warn that the changes to the bill also could extend the legal protection to businesses with faith-based mission statements.

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