Editorial: Conversation needed on religious liberty

For now, the contentious fight over “religious liberty” legislation in Georgia is over. It’s more accurate to say, honestly, that things are — for the moment — at an uncomfortable impasse.

The root questions are far from settled, based on impassioned statements pro and con this week after Gov. Nathan Deal made the courageous decision to veto Georgia House Bill 757.

Proponents said the bill would have further guaranteed the freedom of religion promised by the U.S. Constitution.

Opponents said the measure, if signed into law, would have enabled unconstitutionally discriminatory actions.

At the center of feelings on both sides is the controversial matter of same-sex marriage, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is now a legal right across the land. That decision did not sit well with many people of faith, who see it as outrageous government overreach that threatens their right to practice religion as they see fit.

Employers and economic developers come at the matter from a more-secular role. Many profess the importance of their being able to hire the best workers into a welcoming environment, regardless of sexual orientation. They contend Georgia won’t thrive without attracting the best and brightest workers and firms here. These job-creators warned of severe economic harm if HB 757 became law.

Even before Monday’s historic veto by Gov. Deal, state officials were dealing with economic development prospects that had scratched off Georgia from their relocation list because of HB 757’s progress. Other companies and entities likewise warned of similar dollars-and-cents negative fallout for Georgia.

We believe that the next chapters in this contentious conversation will require earnest consideration of all sensible viewpoints. Given the broad interest and wide reaction to Gov. Deal’s decision, we today present a special, extra page containing a variety of opinions on this issue.

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