Both chambers of the Kentucky legislature last night voted overwhelmingly to override Gov. Steve Beshear’s veto of the Religious Freedom Act, which allows state residents to disobey civil rights laws on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The House’s 79-15 vote sent House Bill 279 to the Senate, which voted 32-6 to override the measure. The one-paragraph bill that stirred strong emotions now will become law in 90 days. Beshear released a statement saying he was disappointed with the override of the only bill he vetoed in the 2013 legislative session. “As I explained in my veto message, I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care, and individuals’ civil rights.”
Activists predict the new law, which had the backing of the anti-gay Kentucky Family Foundation, will be used to challenge LGBT rights ordinances in Louisville, Lexington, Covington. and Vicco. JMG reader Craig operates a Facebook page that tracks the bill’s supporters.
Here is the text of the bill.
Government shall not burden a person’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits,assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
Let’s hope the ACLU takes this to court at once.