Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed legislation he said would legalize discrimination against LGBT people.
The Democratic governor signed his veto of Senate Bill 41 Wednesday morning while on WTOP.
"We're not going to tolerate discrimination. Virginia will be open and welcoming," he said.
The measure would prohibit the state from punishing religious groups that refuse services related to gay marriages. It has been nicknamed the "Kim Davis bill," after the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses despite the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationally.
Republican supporters said the bill would protect people expressing their sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.
Social conservatives condemned McAuliffe's veto, saying the legislation provided a "modest protection" of religious liberties.
"It is unfortunate that Gov. McAuliffe is so willing to discriminate against people of faith who simply disagree with the secular left's sexual dogma,'' said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia.
Opponents of the legislation introduced in December by State Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Galax) assailed it as an attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.
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McAuliffe said businesses and job-creators do not want to do business in states that "appear more concerned with demonizing people than with creating a strong business climate."
Republican-backed measures related to LGBT rights recently have attracted fierce national pushback from large corporations in Georgia and North Carolina. Apple, Dow Chemical and PayPal are among the companies that issued statements critical of the law in North Carolina, The New York Times reported.
Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill similar to Virginia's earlier this week.
The fight in Virginia has received less attention, due in part to McAuliffe's repeated promises to veto the bill.
Supporters of the measure still will have an opportunity to try to overturn the veto in April, but are unlikely to have enough votes to do so.