Nathan Deal, Georgia's two-term governor, is certain to face a firestorm from conservative lawmakers, but his decision to veto a bill that would have offered barriers to same-sex marriage is drawing cheers from businesses.
Dozens of corporate heavy-hitters had urged the governor to veto the bill, including Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel and Salesforce. The NFL signaled the measure, if passed, might jeopardize Atlanta's bid for the Super Bowl, and the NCAA suggested it might hinder Georgia's ability to host championship games.
The bill, called "The Free Exercise Protection Act," would let faith-based organizations deny services to those who violate their "sincerely held religious belief" and protect their rights to fire employees who don't work in concert with those beliefs.
Georgia Prospers, a coalition of more than 500 companies that describes itself as "committed to keeping Georgia open for business to everyone," lobbied Deal until the last minute, publishing an advertisement in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sunday arguing against "legalized discrimination" and saying that southern hospitality extends beyond "good manners."
On Monday, the group tweeted its praise of the Republican governor for rejecting the measure.
The controversy over the measure appeared to be taking a toll on the state, with two pending economic projects in the state cancelled ahead of Deal's decision.