Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday morning he will veto a controversial "religious liberty" bill, saying the First Amendment was protection enough for the concerns raised by Christians after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last year.
"I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia," he said.
The bill came before state lawmakers last year but was scrapped when businesses - including chambers of commerce, local convention and visitors' bureaus and major corporations - threatened boycotts of Georgia.
The same has been true this year, with Disney, Coca-Cola and Home Depot, among many others, raising alarm bells about the discrimination against gays and lesbians that the bill might codify into law.
Deal said he could not find a single example where religious people had been forced to marry same-sex couples or provide services to them that ran counter to their beliefs.
Deal said while he does not believe that Republican lawmakers were motivated by discrimination to pass the bill, he acknowledged that it could lead to discrimination.
"Georgia is a welcoming state," he said.
Deal called it ironic that religious people are asking for government protection when their rights are delivered by God.
But he also left a parting shot for businesses that would leave the state as a result of the bill's contentious debate.
"I do not respond very well to insults or threats," he said, adding that his decision was bound on legal reasoning and personal principles.