May 2013 Church & State | AU Bulletin


Kentucky lawmakers have overridden Gov. Steve Beshear’s veto of a so-called “religious freedom” bill.

HB 279 states that the government cannot infringe on sincerely held religious beliefs without “clear and convincing evidence” of the need to do so. Beshear said the bill, which was backed by the Family Foundation and the Catholic Conference, could “cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individuals’ civil rights.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that the House of Representatives voted 79-15 to override Beshear’s veto, and the Senate voted 32-6 to do the same.

During debate, Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Jefferson County) noted that the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions already protect religious freedom and that there is no legitimate threat to belief.

“This is a piece of legislation looking for a reason,” he said, according to the Courier-Journal.

Americans United and many of its allies, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, had encouraged Beshear to veto HB 279, saying it lacked key civil rights protections.