News (USA)

Ky. House may override Governor’s veto of religious freedom bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky state House is prepared to hold a vote Tuesday on overriding Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s veto of a bill that sponsors say is intended to protect the religious beliefs of Kentuckians from government intrusion.

Beshear vetoed the measure on Friday, saying that while he values religious freedom, he thinks the bill goes too far.

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 people to discriminate against gays, lesbians and others in the name of religion.

Meanwhile, church groups had urged Beshear to sign the bill, saying Kentucky should be allowed to join 16 other states that provide similar protections for people of faith.

It was Democratic lawmakers who made the decision to push for the veto override, though most House Republicans are expected to join in the vote.

“I think we need to protect our religious freedoms,” said state Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge. “I’ll tell you in my district, I have yet to have one phone call asking me not to override.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said lawmakers decided late Monday to pursue the override.

State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, sponsored the bill after the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling last year upholding a state law requiring the Amish to display bright orange safety triangles on their drab buggies so motorists could better see them. Several Amish men in rural western Kentucky felt so strongly that displaying the triangles violated their religious belief against calling attention to themselves that they went to jail rather than comply with the law.

The legislation protects “sincerely held religious beliefs” from infringement unless there is “a compelling governmental interest.”

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