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Gov. Deal backtracking on ‘religious freedom’ bill anti-discrimination demand

Remember the days when Gov. Nathan Deal was vowing to include anti-discrimination language in any so-called “religious freedom” bill proposed in Georgia? It was a simple time. Rihanna asked for her money politely. Letterman was still on the air.

Yeah, not so much anymore. In a Wednesday afternoon interview with WABE, Deal said that such language “may not be necessary” according to a transcript provided by the station.

He went on to say he would support a bill that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 1993, saying, “It has not been necessary in the original federal version of the statute, so hopefully if we have something that’s replication of the federal statute, that language may not be necessary.”

That sound you hear is Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) and Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) high-fiving.

Following the bill’s failure in the legislature this year, Deal immediately did a series of interviews where he vowed to take the reins on the issue and said he would push for a bill that included the anti-discrimination clause.

It marked a line in the sand between Deal and McKoon, SB 129’s sponsor who is on a mission to keep anti-discrimination language out of his bill.

Delegates voted in favor of a “religious freedom” bill without the anti-discrimination clause at the state GOP convention last week in Athens, despite the emergence of a group called Georgia Republicans for the Future who ran ads in favor of the clause.

Curiously, Deal also told WABE that he wants to make sure the bill doesn’t cause the kind of controversy that arose in Indiana when a similar bill passed. Good luck on that one.