Kentucky legislature overwhelmingly overrides veto of ‘religious freedom’ bill


The Kentucky House and Senate voted by overwhelming margins Tuesday night to override Gov. Steve Beshear’s veto of the controversial “religious freedom” bill.

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.”

But the Family Foundation claimed the wide vote margins proved that the concerns of Beshear, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and gay-rights and human-rights groups were unfounded.

“The magnitude of this vote should send a message to these groups that this kind of deception is not appreciated by the majority of the state’s elected lawmakers,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the Family Foundation.

Written By: Tom Loftus
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  1. Good old fashioned christianity fueled reasoning, desperate to revert to the dark ages in the 21st century.

    Ill put money on the idea that the original veto didnt infringe religious peoples rights. But the simple fact that it gave rights to gays meant it had to be voted out. Small minded and selfish

  2. There seem to always be those back-eddys in any forward movement of society. The enlightened strive for inclusiveness and the primitives like it the way it used to be. I bet in Kentucky, there are still lots of people who insist there is no proof that tobacco causes cancer. Or that the plantation owners took good care of their slaves.

  3. Not to be too picky but Kentucky is a Border State

    In reply to #3 by kidchicago:

    Kentucky—Moving up on the list of Southern States that do STUPID so well!!!

  4. Yes, indeed, a border State————–bordering on lunacy!!!!!! Kentucky–going down in history for the
    collective number of legislative “jerks” in a luny, collective, legislative “knee jerk” reaction!!!!

    Put that in a Kentucky Bucket!!!!! And hold those wings while keeping “abreast” of things!!!!

    In reply to #7 by wdbailey:

    Not to be too picky but Kentucky is a Border State

    In reply to #3 by kidchicago:

    Kentucky—Moving up on the list of Southern States that do STUPID so well!!!

  5. OK, I need some help understanding this bill. It states that the gov’t shall not infringe on religious beliefs unless it can provide “convincing evidence” to do so. Isn’t this something we in the secular community should support? Don’t we always demand evidence when people make outrageous claims? For example, if a parent claimed that it was their “religious belief” to force their 3 year-old daughter to undergo circumcision, the gov’t could arrest them for child abuse using this bill as justification. The “convincing evidence” is that the was “involuntary and violent.” Without the bill, the parent is free to commit any abuse they can by always claiming “religious freedom!” So, isn’t it good that the bill allows the gov’t to combat abusive religious practices? Everyone here seems to dislike the bill and you probably have scenarios of your own. I’m not convinced that this bill is good but I’m having trouble imagining scenarios where it would be bad. So please, help a fellow atheist out!

  6. In reply to #10 by cbateman:

    OK, I need some help understanding this bill.

    I can see why you might. This sort of law is intended to be used as a tricky legal device, and so it’s not immediately obvious as bad legislation by those not familiar with the nuanced pitfalls of the legal process. I am not a lawyer, and somebody here can probably give a better explanation, but here’s how I understand the situation:

    To “infringe on any person’s sincerely held religious beliefs” is already illegal, as per the Supreme Court in any number of cases you might care to look up. However, there is a perception among some christians that any instance in which they are not given carte blanche to violate the civil rights of others with no repercussions is, in fact, a “violation of their religious rights”.

    By passing this law at the state level, a lawyer can point to it and say to a judge, “My client’s religious freedom has been violated” for any number of specious reasons (cross against no-jewelry policy, church flyers against no-solicitation policy, client refuses to serve LGBT individuals at a place of public business, client is catholic and believes she should not be fired for refusing to ring up condoms or fill a prescription for contraception even though that’s part of the job she signed up for) and manage to bypass the binding Supreme Court rulings (as local/state law is considered first in lower courts) if he can get the judge to agree with his definition of “religious freedom”.

    What this means is that biased religious judges will be able use this law as a bludgeon with which to unconstitutionally violate the civil rights of anybody “the religious” (conservative christians only, in reality) don’t happen to like, necessitating an appeal to a higher court that can’t just ignore federal precedent when state precedent exists. If I’m not mistaken, that may only leave the Supreme Court. Which would make Kentucky a First Amendment-Free Zone in all but name.

  7. In reply to #12 by The Signal:

    I am not a lawyer, and somebody here can probably give a better explanation, but here’s how I understand the situation:

    I think you’ve put it quite nicely, actually.

  8. The “Creation Museum”, the legislature that demands official credit be given to God for protecting Kentucky – and now this tripe. What the hell, Kentucky? Does everybody in the state have a job that pays all the bills? Food? Health insurance? Outstanding educational facilities? A safe, efficient infrastructure? No poverty or crime? No? Then why the hell are Kentuckians wasting time and the taxpayer dime on this religious pap?

    And another thing – why is their “faith” so feeble that it needs to be enforced and protected by law? What kind of a namby-pamby God do they believe in? Can’t he defend his followers himself? These religionut bullies are really just terrified little pussies.

  9. If the people who own race-horses and live outside Kentucky have any integrity, they will boycott this year’s Kentucky Derby. Also, NBC should boycott their annual coverage of the event.

    Maybe that will send a message; hit them where it hurts on their biggest day of the year.

  10. In reply to #11 by Philoctetes:

    But you can still marry your sister in Kentucky, Right?… Good one, but wrong, you can’t get any closer than first cousin (seriously).

  11. Yeah! I was raised in Kentucky. From the beginning they brainwash kids to the point that Jim Jones would have been proud. They have, however, evolved to the point that they don’t use Kool-Aid, just a whip. What truly bothers me is the elected government are the one’s wielding that whip. Where’s Rand Paul, or daddy Ron, when you need an actual brain.

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