Ky. lawmakers override Governor’s veto of religious freedom bill


FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky lawmakers have voted to override the governor’s veto of a bill intended to protect legal claims of religious freedom.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed the bill on Friday over concerns that the measure would undermine civil rights protections for gays and lesbians and lead to costly lawsuits for taxpayers.

Beshear said that, while he values religious freedom, he thinks the bill goes too far.

Supporters of the measure say the law will give stronger legal standing to people in court who claim the government burdened their ability to practice their religion. The legislation protects “sincerely held religious beliefs” from infringement unless there is “a compelling governmental interest.” The courts will still consider and rule on each matter.

Beshear had been under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and other groups to veto the measure that they contend would allow for increased discrimination disguised as religious beliefs.

But bill sponsors said it would only provide a higher level of legal protection that already exists on the federal level and in at least 16 states. The debate pitted civil liberties groups like the ACLU against religious organizations such as the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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