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 courier-journal.com]

[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.]

Tags: LGBT rights, antidiscrimination, civil rights, compelling governmental interest, discrimination, free pass, gay rights, legislation, religion trumps fines, religion trumps penalties, More…religious freedom

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Replies to This Discussion

So ... in other words, if someone's religious beliefs hold that a rebellious child should be stoned as punishment, then the government has no standing to oppose the implementation of such belief?  What they're talking about is a hair's breadth away from sedition!

Anyone who can't see through this sorry piece of bullshit needs to stop by their optometrist's office - SOONEST!

Yeah, because this is going to last a long time, once it gets to federal courts.  What the hell?  Why are they even bothering?  Even those voting for it have got to know what is going to happen in the judiciary.

I wish the legislators involved could be summarily thrown out for malpractice!

I Am Not A Lawyer: but it looks like this bill would (try to) shift the burden of justification from the religious violator to the government, which would have to prove "compelling governmental interest", as opposed to a mere possible belief in a rational basis.

Hopefully there'd be a clearly realized "compelling governmental interest" in preventing murder and child abuse, but with all the beliefs in so-called "special rights" for oppressed groups, civil rights legislation could be held in limbo for years....

And the insanity continues.

Here's a minor example, that I am sure the Bible thumpers and tambourine bangers in the State legislature in Frankfort never thought of. A Muslim women with a full veil wants to get a driver's license or state ID card. Is it a "compelling governmental interest" that her face be depicted in a photo ID?  It would seem to me that refusing to issue her a driver's license would be excluding her from a program (that which licenses  operators of motor vehicles) by imposing on her religious freedom.  And, as Grinning Cat pointed out, are the Amish now excluded from having reflectors on their buggies? What about a Catholic priest that sucks down 3/4 of a bottle of sacramental wine at mass, and then wants to drive to the wedding reception, to give "blessings to the wedding party" with a .08 blood alcohol content that came from performing religious duties? Why not just throw out the whole motor vehicle code? 

It's funny how strongly many religious folks feel about religious freedom: Strongly for their own, but strongly against that of others.  Like the state legislator in Louisiana who regretted voting for school voucher programs when he found out, after the fact, that Muslim schools could apply for the vouchers just like Christian ones could.  You have to marvel at both the stupidity and the duplicity of these people.  I will never understand which is greater.

Funny how there are many religionists who think "religious freedom" means only the freedom to impose their religion on the rest of us.

RELIGION IS LIKE A PENIS.

It's fine to have one.
It's fine to be proud of it.

But please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around.

And DON'T try to shove it down my children's throats.

Logan at Unreasonable Faith adds: "and you shouldn't discriminate against people who don't have one."

(Another version adds "do not write laws with it" and "do not think with it".)

I want to put those two two words into a poem. Probably a limerick.

It will refer to the followers' stupidity and their leaders' duplicity.

The "pidity" and the "plicity" will go well with the "anity" in christianity  and insanity.

Does Ashley Judd really want to run for the US Senate from this state?

Great minds sometimes think alike. Thanks to Ruth for posting about this in LGBTQI Nexus / Gay Atheists:

"Kentucky seeks to legalize LGBT discrimination"

The comments there are worth checking out!

The governor vetoed the bill today (Friday), "noting its well-placed intentions but possible significant unintended consequences."

“I value and cherish our rights to religious freedom and I appreciate the good intentions of House Bill 279 [...] However, I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care, and individuals’ civil rights. 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 statement on Gov. Steve Beshear's official website cited the bill's heightened standard for legislation of "clear and convincing proof", yet its unclear definition of "burden"; and that there were no exceptions for civil rights laws, any state agencies, or public safety and protection such as public health laws.

However, he expressed support for the principle of the bill“I urge supporters and opponents of this legislation to come together before next session and find compromise legislation that protects religious freedom, while avoiding the possible unintended consequences of House Bill 279, and I pledge to work with them to find that compromise.”

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