Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky has vetoed House Bill 279, known as the ‘Forced Religion Imposition Act’ by some. People and organizations from across the state called on the Governor to veto the bill even though Senate President Robert Stivers has promised to override the veto; however, the override may not be possible.
Kentucky Equality Federation president Jordan Palmer noted that “Despite the promise of Senate President Stivers to override a veto to House Bill 279, Kentucky Equality Federation does not think the House and Senate has sufficient time to override a veto, especially with a sine die only five (5) days away. Though they could perhaps pull it off, anyone involved in Frankfort politics will tell you the same thing; the Kentucky Legislature doesn’t give itself enough time to override a veto.”
HB 279 would have allowed for people to discriminate based upon their religious convictions or beliefs. This has been something that Christian Conservatives have been pushing since the end of Segregation.
KEF President Palmer also stated that “Governor Beshear is pushing Kentucky to once again being a leader in civil rights protection for minorities throughout the Commonwealth by not infringing on their city equality ordinances in Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Vicco. We applaud Steve Beshear for being an effective Governor and Commander-in-Chief; to quote Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus,’ and Governor Beshear has done exactly that.”
Many believe that the bill went beyond ‘freedom of religion’ to ‘forced religion’ allowing people to impose their religious beliefs on others and giving them legal authority to do so.
Palmer also stated that “Kentucky lawmakers needs to first define language in House Bill 279 before it becomes law. What constitutes a ‘burden’ is undefined in the proposed law. One of the amendments proposed and accepted by Representative Owens also fails to qualify what a ‘substantial’ burden to someone’s religious beliefs are.”
He went on to say “Personally I do not think the House and Senate have sufficient time to override a veto, especially with a sine die only four (4) days away. Though they could perhaps pull it off, anyone involved in Frankfort politics will tell you the same thing; historically the Kentucky Legislature doesn’t give itself enough time to override a veto.”