Supporters of Georgia’s antigay bill say debate isn’t over

“I’ve always advocated for Georgia’s status as the No. 1 state to do business, but as we move forward I will never lose sight of the importance of an individual’s right to practice their faith,” Cagle said.

Deal, a Baptist, will be able to exercise his veto power during two more legislative sessions before he leaves the governor’s mansion. Now 74, he has said he doesn’t plan to run again.

Supporters said Deal caved to corporate pressure.

“There was an economic threat that was put on Georgia by Disney, the NFL and any other person in Hollywood,” said Garland Hunt, a pastor at The Father’s House in Norcross, Georgia. “Because of economics, he faltered.”

Georgia Equality, the state’s largest gay-rights advocacy group, now plans to push for legal protection specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents in employment, housing and other services. State law currently offers none.

“I really would hope after 3 years of debate, which has become very toxic, that we can get leaders from the faith community, from both parties and from a variety of political perspectives to come together on a new approach,” said the group’s executive director, Jeff Graham.

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