Gov. Beshear vetoes religious freedom bill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Beshear vetoes religious freedom bill

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear has vetoed the religious freedom bill. 

That bill was designed to protect individuals who choose to ignore laws they believe violate their religious liberty.

The governor said the bill had good intentions, but cited potential unintended consequences. 

"Religious freedom is a cornerstone of this great nation, and a right enshrined in both the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution," said Gov. Beshear in a news release.  But he added, "As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation.  I have heard from many organizations and government entities that share those same concerns. Therefore, after giving this measure thoughtful analysis and consideration, today I vetoed the bill."

The governor also noted that the bill did not offer exceptions for public safety or civil rights laws.  Opponents of the bill said it could hamper economic development, threaten federal funding, and lead to religion being used as a justification for abuse.

Beshear said he is willing to work with supporters of such a bill to develop one that will not have unintended consequences.

The bill was prompted by the case of Amish men jailed over their refusal to display orange safety decals on their carriages.

The bill did pass by veto-proof margins in both the House and Senate.

"It's one of those bills where you go, Religious freedom? Of course everyone is for religious freedom!' But when you really look at the long-term intent or effect,  you go, 'Wait a minute. Take a step back,'" said State Representative Mary Lou Marzian, House District 34.

"The bill could lead to discrimination. It could lead to concerns in healthcare. It could also lead to massive financial burdens on local governments," said Chris Hartman, Director of the Fairness Campaign.

Groups like the Fairness Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky are supporting the veto, and calling on the General Assembly not to override it.

"And give us a year to work together. Have us all come to the table together to have the best piece of legislation that protects civil liberties, and religious freedom, and that's really what we're after," said Derek Selznick, with American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

Members of the General Assembly have until Tuesday to override it. That is the last day of the legislative session.

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