Religious Liberty Bill passes Georgia Senate, awaits governor's approval

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks to the media at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, January 30, 2014. | REUTERS / Tami Chappell

The Religious Liberty Bill has passed the Georgia state legislature last week and is awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Nathan Deal for it to become a law.

Opponents say the Religious Liberty Bill discriminates against same-sex couples, but Gov. Deal has earlier said that he will not sign a bill that would allow discrimination, according to Reuters.

The Georgia bill gives churches, religious schools, and other faith-based organizations the right to turn down events that would go against their faith. In addition, it grants faith-based groups the right to hire and fire employees based on their religious beliefs.

Georgia Baptist Convention spokesperson Mike Griffin praised the state legislature's passing of the bill. He explained that the bill adds another layer of protection to their First Amendment Right to religious freedom.

For Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus), who is the Senate sponsor of the bill, the Religious Freedom Bill is needed in Georgia and the whole country. He said the passing of the bill in the state legislature will allow the state to lead the nation in defining marriage, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

However, opponents say the bill could be used to discriminate against same-sex couples by denying them certain services. Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a group representing the LGBT community, spoke out against the religious liberty bill.

"The decision by the legislature today was to make an egregious and discriminatory bill even worse," said HRC. "It's appalling that anti-equality extremists in the legislature are trying to ignore the will of the people of Georgia."

Rabbi Peter S. Berg of The Temple in Buckhead said he is against the bill because it goes against his faith, which teaches him to treat all people fairly, the report relays.

Delta Airlines, Coca Cola, and more than 300 other corporations signed a pledge calling for the state lawmakers to drop the religious freedom bill, the report adds.

Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has not yet announced his final decision on the controversial bill. He could either sign or veto the Religious Liberty Bill.