Ky. Legislature Overrides Veto of 'Religious Freedom' Bill

March 28, 2013 — The Kentucky General Assembly on Tuesday overturned Gov. Steve Beshear's (D) veto of a measure (HB 279) that purports to protect "sincerely held religious beliefs" from infringement unless there is a "compelling governmental interest," the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

In vetoing the legislation on Friday, Beshear argued that it is too vaguely worded and could potentially result in costly lawsuits for the county, city and state governments.

According to the Herald-Leader, more than 50 entities, including government groups, contacted Beshear to express their opposition to the measure, known as the "religious freedom" bill. Meanwhile, supporters argued that 16 other states have passed similar legislation without significant legal disputes.

Reaction to Override

In a statement issued after the veto override, Beshear reiterated his "significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individuals' civil rights."

Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, said in a statement, "The General Assembly's override of Governor Beshear's veto is a virtually incomprehensible endorsement of discrimination, and legislators should be held accountable by those who support the rights of women, children, people of color, and all Kentuckians made potentially vulnerable by this law."

State Rep. Darryl Owens (D) said there is "no reason for [the bill]" because no one's religious liberty is in jeopardy (Musgrave/Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader, 3/26).