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Greg Bluestein

David Ralston and Casey Cagle are digging in on Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill

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Jan. 27, 2016 - Atlanta - Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson (from left), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House David Ralston at the joint session for the State of the Judiciary address. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson (from left), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House David Ralston. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Thursday that they would not push to overturn Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a “religious liberty” measure this year, but both vowed to unite behind a new version of the controversial legislation next year.

In an exclusive joint interview, the leaders of the two legislative chambers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they are ready for a fresh start on the debate over the measure, which would extend legal protections to opponents of same-sex marriage, and are heeding the calls of religious conservatives clamoring for more safeguards for faith-based organizations.

They would not commit to any specific language in the next version of the measure, including whether they would include a broader anti-discrimination clause sought by gay rights activists. But they downplayed the barrage of threats from Hollywood heavyweights and blue-chip corporations who said they would boycott the state if the measure became law.

More: Top Georgia legislative leaders: No special session on Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ veto

Insider’s note: We’ll post the transcript of the Q&A on Friday morning.