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March 27, 2013 Print

Kentucky Religious Freedom Bill is a ‘Shield for People of Faith’

by Bethany Monk

A Kentucky religious freedom bill will now become a law. The state’s House and Senate overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to override the governor’s veto of the legislation.

HB 279 is designed to protect the religious freedom of individuals and religious organizations. The bill’s language states that the government shall not burden these freedoms, unless it can prove a “compelling governmental interest” for doing so. The legislation also protects the rights of individuals and religious organizations to act or refuse to act on religious grounds.

Opponents continually misrepresented the bill, according to Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky (FFK).

“ACLU and the Fairness Alliance, along with a compliant liberal media, distorted this bill beyond recognition,” Cothran explained, noting that these groups were unable to cite “a single instance” of any civil right being threatened. “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.”

The House voted 79-15 and the Senate voted 32-6 to override the veto.

The legislation is simply a way to protect people, said Kent Ostrander, president of FFK.

“This bill is a shield for people of faith,” Ostrander explained. “It is not a weapon or a sword against anyone else .There’s been significant misunderstanding about that in recent weeks.”

Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed The Kentucky Religious Freedom Act on Friday, claiming the bill could “threaten public safety, health care and individual’s civil rights.” 

“I was surprised that he vetoed it,” said Ceri Geissinger, one of the dozens of bill supporters who gathered in the Capitol Building’s rotunda Tuesday as they waited for the House to take up the issue. “I would think that he would want to protect every citizen’s right to have their beliefs and to practice their beliefs in the open.”

Learn more about HB 279.