Religious beliefs could trump state law: Kentucky bill on fast track to passage

(Mar. 7, 2013)

Civil-liberties and gay-rights groups in Kentucky are mounting a last-ditch effort to oppose a bill that would allow people to defy laws and regulations that “substantially burden” their religious beliefs.

The measure, which overwhelmingly passed the state House last week, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-2 Wednesday. It goes to the full Senate, which last year overwhelmingly endorsed a similar measure.

Opponents say it could let business owners and other individuals defy state and local civil-rights laws, including those in four Kentucky cities that prohibit anti-gay discrimination.

[...] At issue is House Bill 279, passed by the House on Friday 82-7. [...]

The House bill says laws and regulations can’t “substantially” burden someone’s “sincerely held religious belief” unless there is a proven, “compelling governmental interest” in it.The bill would prohibit the government from imposing on someone’s religious freedom through any “indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.” That would have given the Amish a stronger defense against their convictions on misdemeanor traffic violations [for refusing to use orange-red safety triangles on their buggies].


[Read the full four-page article at]

[UPDATE: Kentucky's governor vetoed the bill on Friday 3/22, supporting its intentions but concerned about unintended consequences.]

[UPDATE 2: The legislature overrode the veto by wide margins on Tuesday 3/26.]

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Replies to This Discussion

Well-placed intentions, my ass.  If it's against your religion to be gay, then you can act like a straight person, even if you're gay.  The first amendment doesn't protect your right to force your religion on others.

I also call bullshit about the unintended consequences.  They were absolutely intended.

Disappointing news: The Kentucky legislature overwhelmingly voted Tuesday night to override Gov. Steve Beshear's veto, by 79-15 in the House and 32-6 in the Senate.

The crazy bit is, we've already proven there is a compelling governmental interest in civil rights legislation.  This one is going to get taken off the books, but it is going to cause a lot of suffering in the mean time.

I like your response, Humble Pie. 

Great disappointment! Well, challenges continue and so do we. 

I've read the text of probably all recent (1960s through the present) US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions on church and state, and the editorials in the newsletters of the civil rights organizations who brought law suits challenging such actions by legislatures.

This uncommonly silly law echoes the key phrases--compelling governmental interest, substantially burden, and sincerely held religious belief--of numerous SCOTUS decisions on the subject.

It's simply pandering by legislators to Kentucky's evangelicals, and it reflects the ignorance and gullibility of evangelicals, who then re-elect these legislators.

One way to tell: the above impressive-sounding phrases have clear meanings to people who know what SCOTUS has done, and unclear meanings to people who don't know. For instance, Wikipedia probably has articles about the SCOTUS "three-prong" test. It's true that Antonin Scalia would impose Catholicism's rules on the American people, but he's almost always on the losing side. (His opinions and their attacks on everything modern are often fun to read.)

Few if any business owners have the resources, cash and lawyers, to take actions they may have to defend and are all-but-certain to lose in court. The religious right has since 1990 assembled legal resources (Becket Fund, ACLJ and more) whose many volunteer attorneys take on cases they often lose and who then leave their clients to pay the considerable legal costs, including the costs incurred by the prevailing side.

The 2005 Dover Pennsylvania Intelligent Design case, which the ID people lost, left the schools (the taxpayers) with six-figure costs. The voters tossed out all b ut one of the miscreants on the school board whose decision caused the problem.

It is in the interest of municipality, county, state and USA to give full citizenship with rights and responsibilities to LGBT. To do otherwise is bigotry. 

It is in the interest of municipality, county, state and USA to have adequate lights or safety signs on vehicles using public highways and those who violate the law are subject to charges. To do so is violating the rights of other users of the highway who need adequate visual signage. 

If religious choose to violate laws of full citizenship or grants privilege to some while endangering others, then religion becomes an enemy of the people.


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why science is so fascinating

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quantum mechanics can explain how our universe began.

from nothing to something explained. 

gee....I wonder if any pastafarians out in Kentucky have tested this law. hm....wearing a spaghetti strainer on your head for D.L.s...and dont forget "dress like a pirate day".

or islam when they want to stone someone (with real rocks) in a public place, or marry off a 9yr old child  to a 50yr old pervert.

or whatever?

cannibalism anyone!?


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