ATLANTA - Religious leaders gathered at the State Capitol on Tuesday to speak out on Governor Nathan Deal’s decision to veto the religious freedom bill.
Nine organizations in Georgia, which represent more than two million people in the state, held a news conference to voice their opinions.
"Governor Deal is out of touch with the people of this state," said Tanya Ditty of Conservative Women for America of Georgia.
The news conference included American Principles Project, Citizen Impact, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Georgia Right to Life and Georgia Conservatives in Action. The groups pointed to a recent poll they conducted that shows of the 811 people surveyed, 51.8 percent agree and 14.4 percent "somewhat agree" that Governor Deal should sign "a bill that provides for pastors and churches to exercise their religious freedoms in their service to their communities."
"There is an appetite for this in our state," said Ditty. "I think the governor is definitely just out of sync with what Georgia wants. I think our poll results show that."
APP USERS: Watch the news conference here
Monday, Deal said freedom of religion is already protected by the First Amendment and House Bill 757 could have given legal cover to acts of discrimination.
"Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people. Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings," Deal said. "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."
Pastor Garland Hunt, with The Father's House, said Tuesday Governor Deal "turned his back on the faith based community."
"Yes, we do have inalienable rights from God, but I tell you, it's the responsibility of our state and of our government to protect those rights," Hunt added.
State Senator Marty Harbin, R - Tyrone, added his voice to the chorus of lawmakers calling for a special session to try to override Deal's veto.
"We need leadership in our House and in our Senate to stand up and say we need to call a special session. We need to represent the people," said Harbin.
In order to have a special session, three-fifths of the members of the House and Senate would have to petition for one. It would then take a two-thirds vote to overturn the veto.