Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) vetoed a controversial religious freedom bill on Friday that endangered anti-discrimination laws.
“I value and cherish our rights to religious freedom and I appreciate the good intentions of House Bill 279 and the members of the General Assembly who supported this bill to protect our constitutional rights to practice our religion,” Beshear said in a statement. “However, I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care, and individuals’ civil rights.”
The Religious Freedom Act would allow someone with a “sincerely held religious belief” to defy state law and require courts to apply the highest level of judicial review, known as “strict scrutiny,” when considering any law that “burdened” religious freedom. The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights warned “it could make discrimination legal” because it was vaguely written.
“As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation,” Beshear added. “I have heard from many organizations and government entities that share those same concerns. Therefore, after giving this measure thoughtful analysis and consideration, today I vetoed the bill.”
Kentucky state Rep. Bob Damron (D), who introduced the bill, said he expected the legislature to override the governor’s veto, a task that only requires a majority vote in each chamber.
“The House will override the veto,” he told WFPL News. “The only way they won’t is if we’re not given the opportunity to vote on Monday.”
– – [Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]
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