"Religious Freedom Bill" to become law on Tuesday


Ky. (WYMT) - House Bill 279, also known as the "Religious Freedom Bill," becomes law in Kentucky on Tuesday. Numerous states have already passed religious freedom measures into law.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed fourteen measures in March that become state law on Tuesday. Perhaps none are more controversial than House Bill 279, which states "An action motivated by a sincerely held religious belief can not be infringed upon without a compelling governmental interest."

"Religious freedom is one of the foundations of our country. People came here for religous freedom," said the Kentucky Speaker of the House, Greg Stumbo.

Opponents of the bill say it invites businesses to close the door on folks based on their demographics.

"The bill, in our view, is a thin veil for discrimination and giving people the right to discriminate...It hands people a reason to say 'Well you know it's against my relgion to do X, Y, and Z,'" said Suzanne Tallichet, the Chairperson for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

But supporters say these fears will not come true.

"There are other laws which come in to play at both the state and federal level, which prohibit those types of awful things from happening," Speaker Stumbo said.

Governor Beshear vetoed the bill in March, and says "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."

But Speaker Stumbo says similar laws are already in place in other states, and Governor Beshear's concerns have not been problems.

"The things the governor worried about didn't happen and haven't happened in other states that have done this type of legislation," said Speaker Stumbo.

One thing is clear: the debate and controversy surrounding House Bill 279 is far from over.

Though Governor Beshear vetoed the measure, the Kentucky General Assembly voted to overturn that decision. The override passed the democratically-controlled house by a vote of 79 to 15 and the republican senate 32 to 6.


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