UPDATE: Stumbo says House Will Vote on Religious Freedom Veto

By: Olivia Fecteau, The Associated Press Email
By: Olivia Fecteau, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 3/26/13 @ 2 p.m. .
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the chamber will vote on whether it should override the governor's veto of a bill intended to better protect legal claims of religious freedom.

Lawmakers have until midnight Tuesday to finish their work.

Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed the bill Friday, citing concerns that someone's claim of religious freedom in court could undermine state and municipal civil rights protections and lead to costly litigation in the courts.

The House and Senate passed the bill earlier this session with wide margins. Senate leadership already indicated the chamber will vote to override the veto. Only a simple majority in both the House and Senate is needed.

UPDATE 3/22/13
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- 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.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A new law that would allow people to ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs has passed in the Kentucky House and Senate.

The bill, which is supported by religious groups, states that the "government shall not burden a person's freedom of religion" and that the burden must be "substantial." It further protects a person's right to act or refuse to act on religious grounds.

Civil rights groups are asking Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to veto the bill, saying it could be used to hide behind religion and discriminate against others. For example, a landlord could refuse to rent to someone who is gay or a racial minority, even though that's prohibited under fair housing laws.

Another instance in which this law would apply involves religious organizations upset with the federal healthcare mandate. Under that mandate, organizations are required to provide insured contraceptives to female employees, which they say goes against their beliefs.

Same-sex marriage and workplace discrimination, among other things, could also fall under the umbrella of this law.

This type of law has come into play in the past, when members of the Amish community got into trouble for refusing to put reflective orange triangles on their buggies. They said it violated their religious beliefs.

Locally, few people had heard of the bill passing in the Legislature, but most said they agreed with the principle of the law.

"People ignore laws all the time, and it may not necessarily be right or wrong," Sabrina Riley, a church ministry assistant in Ashland, said. "If you feel that it goes against what you believe, then yes, I do believe that you can ignore it."

Most people, though, said they could understand how the law could have negative consequences.

"Hopefully it'll be used for the right, but in the way the world is going, it probably won't be," Phil Osborne, a musician and Christian, said. "It'll be used for the negative, instead of for the positive."

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