WKU Public Radio News Staff
Fri March 22, 2013
Beshear Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill; Sponsor Promises Override
Kentucy Governor Steve Beshear has announced he is vetoing a controversial religious freedom bill. Civil rights groups had urged a veto, saying the measure would essentially legalize certain forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians by groups and individuals who could claim they were doing so because of their religious beliefs.
Some church groups from across the state have been urging Beshear to sign the bill, saying it would give stronger legal standing to people who claim their religious rights have been violated.
“Religious freedom is a cornerstone of this great nation, and a right enshrined in both the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “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."
"However, I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care, and individuals’ civil rights. As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation. 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.”
Democratic state Rep. Bob Damon of Nicholasville, sponsor of the bill, said he will push for a legislative override of the Governor's veto.
Gov. Steve Beshear will have to decide Friday whether to veto a bill intended to protect religious freedom in Kentucky.
The second-term Democrat is being pressured by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and other groups to veto the measure that they contend could allow people claiming religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Meanwhile, church groups across the state have been urging Beshear to sign the bill, saying it would give stronger legal standing to people who claim their religious rights have been violated.
If Beshear doesn't veto the measure, Kentucky would join 16 other states that provide similar protections for people of faith.
Democratic state Rep. Bob Damon of Nicholasville, sponsor of the bill, said he will push for a legislative override if Beshear vetoes it.