Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) broke ranks with his state's conservative lawmakers on Thursday in speaking out against a proposed "religious freedom" bill, Towleroad reported.
"I think what the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies' view of the world and said to those of belief, 'This is what I want you to do,'" Deal said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Atlanta. "We do not have a belief -- in my way of looking at religion -- that says we have to discriminate against anybody. If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don't think they fit."
The measure, which was passed with bipartisan support in the state Senate, would allow clergy to opt out of performing same-sex marriages, and protect "a person or faith-based organization who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with certain sincerely held religious beliefs" from incurring any penalties from the state government.
The bill has already drawn comparisons to heavily-criticized measures in Arkansas and Indiana which were ultimately walked back. But despite stating his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, Deal has said that this type of legislation is "not one of those issues that I have been pushing."
We are not jeopardized, in my opinion, by those who believe differently from us," Deal said. "We are not, in my opinion, put in jeopardy by virtue of those who might hold different beliefs or who may not even agree with what our Supreme Court said the law of the land is on the issue of same-sex marriage. I do not feel threatened by the fact that people who might choose same-sex marriages pursue that route."
Watch Deal's remarks, as posted by WGCL-TV, below.