Some concerned bill could enable discrimination

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - House Bill 279 sailed through the Kentucky House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. It's supporters say its designed to protect religious freedoms, but others say it could have different effects.

"Honestly, I was quite appalled," said Allie Huddleston. She says the wording of the bill could legally open the door to discrimination.

"Sexuality, race, all kinds of things can be discriminated against under the guise of religious freedom under this," she said.

The bill proposes that a person's right to act or not act in a particular way motivated by a sincere religious belief shall not be infringed unless the government has a compelling interest.

"My partner or my friends might not be able to rent from a landlord who doesn't doesn't want to enable gay people living in his house because it's a burden on his religious freedom," said Huddleston.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative Robert Damron says those fears are unfounded.

"That's false. The law basically says the government must have a compelling interest before they can override somebody's freedom of religion. Compelling interest has been defined by the court and things like civil rights," said Damron.

The bill had little opposition when the House passed it last week.

"82-7, and we would anticipate a similar passage rate in the Senate," said Damron.

According to the Human Rights Commission, there is no federal law that protects people from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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