The Kentucky Equality Federation has expressed their disappointment with Kentucky House leadership for overriding HB 279. The “Forced Religion Imposition Act”, if you will, allows for people to discriminate based upon a “sincerely held religious belief” and prevents the imposition of limits upon a person discriminating so long as it constitutes a “burden” on this person’s religious beliefs.
Unfortunately, HB 279 provides no definition for “sincere”, “religious belief”, or “burden.” This would allow anyone the right to claim to be acting on such a belief while discriminating against anyone based upon their religion, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity, or any even handedness.
The veto on HB 279 was, in essence, overridden in secret, an act that KEF noted was not in keeping with open government and transparency, but that “it is however cowardly.” Numerous people from around Kentucky called for the law to be either amended to explain what the terminology meant, or for it to be scrapped. The KEF was among those.
What is more, KEF’s Vice President of Legal, Jillian Hall, noted that laws like HB 279 have been struck down by the US Supreme Court.
KEF President Jordan Palmer stated that “Until last night however, this law did not apply to the commonwealth of Kentucky. As I have said before, the Kentucky Democratic Party is out of touch with the national Democratic Party. However, this was expected, given the continued loses Democrats have suffered since the 2010 election to Tea Party Republicans, Democrats cannot appear to be soft on Religion. Even with loses, this does not justify sacrificing your political beliefs.”
KEF plans to challenge the law in court.
Palmer also noted that “In the future, because of threats related to House Bill 279, not only will our toll-free number override anonymous callers, but being calling the Office of Chairman of the Board (the Chair and Vice Chair) or members of the Office of the President (the President and all Vice Presidents) will be recorded. One lady also called to ask if it was legal to say LGBTI people are abominations at the rally the Family Foundation of Kentucky held on Tuesday.”
He went on to say that “House Bill 279 has the potential to harm local ordinances in place in Covington, Louisville, Lexington and Vicco. Kentucky Equality Federation’s legal department will sue the commonwealth of Kentucky with the first complaint we receive that House Bill 279 has been used to justify discrimination, termination, or school bullying regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”