National Review: Gov. Nathan Deal’s Veto of Religious Liberty Bill Is ‘Craven Capitulation’

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman

National Review staff writer and constitutional attorney David French described Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s acquiescence to corporate pressure and the militant LGBT agenda in his veto of a religious freedom bill as “craven capitulation” that awards him a place in the “governors’ Hall of Shame.”

French said Deal will join two other Republicans–Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson–in the “Hall of Shame,” adding:

Deal, in fact, makes both Pence and Hutchinson look like profiles in courage. They, after all, at least had enough conviction to sign modified, watered-down religious-freedom legislation. Deal couldn’t muster the backbone to sign even a bill that the legislature had already gutted in response to threatened corporate boycotts.

In his veto statement, Republican Deal disparaged Georgia citizens who have been true to the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty on the issue of one man-one woman marriage. Deal suggested that protecting those who believe in traditional marriage from being forced to participate in same-sex marriages was discriminatory.

Deal said:

I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask the government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the “hands-off” admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take.

“Governor Deal decided to reject the wishes of the people who put him in office and instead to embrace the values and the propaganda of Hollywood and the corporate Left,” attorney Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with American Principles Project, told Breitbart News. “Quite simply, and shamefully, he traded away religious liberty in response to threats and bullying.”

“But he’s mistaken if he thinks this battle is over,” she added. “Georgians of faith will be back–this year, next year, as long as it takes–until we secure protection of our God-given liberties.”

As French stated, the Georgia measure was quite narrow in scope–protecting the rights of religious officials to marry only heterosexual couples according to their beliefs, and those of faith-based organizations to use their property and to employ staff in a way that is consistent with the tenets of their faith.

The bill “wouldn’t block a single gay marriage,” wrote French. “It wouldn’t deny a single gay person access to the marketplace. Instead, it would merely offer a bare minimum of legal protections to Georgia citizens who are already confronting anti-Christian bigotry and discrimination.”

In vetoing the bill, Deal rationalized:

Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings. Our people work side-by-side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.

French, however, said Deal is simply “echoing the far Left’s malicious talking points.”

“Actually, Governor, this bill was designed to help people work ‘side by side’ without regard to their religion, and by vetoing it, you are enabling discrimination and betraying the ‘character of Georgia,’” he asserted.

Deal’s veto merely sums up why many constitutional conservatives are fed up with the establishment in Washington–so eager to dismiss life and religious liberty issues when pressed by business and Hollywood elites.

“And experts wonder why the Republican establishment is now in full retreat, facing the wrath of the grassroots,” said French. “Again and again, when GOP politicians face a choice between the people who put them in office and pressure from progressive corporations and the progressive media, the politicians back the social-justice warriors. Out of pure fear. It’s disgusting to watch.”