This is a soon-to-be law heading straight to the courts. Kentucky House Democrats have stated that they have enough votes to override Governor Steve Beshear’s veto of a controversial measure to allow people to impose their religious beliefs on others. They appear to have the votes, and it will need 51 votes on the House floor to override the bill.
Meanwhile important measures including a bill to allow US military service personnel to vote overseas have not been acted upon.
The measure has been billed as a “religious freedom” issue, and would allow anyone with a strong religious conviction to discriminate against lesbians, gays, transsexuals, bisexuals, Jews, Catholics, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and women. The bill has its origins in the regrouping of the racist groups following the defeat of segregation.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo stated that “It will be called for a vote on the override.” Sponsor of the bill, Representative Bob Damron, a Democrat, stated that “Now it will need 51 votes on the House floor and I expect those votes will be there. We’ve got the votes to override. We always have.”
But possibly not. Democratic Representative Mary Lou Marzian stated that “I think it’s a huge mistake. We already have plenty of religious freedom in this country. … This is just pandering to the right-wing zealots in this state and this bill is fraught with problems.”
HB 279 will likely end up in court since it lacks any kind of definition regarding what constitutes “infringement”, “burden” or even “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The law requires that the state or local governments show that they have a “clear and convincing” argument before enacting or enforcing laws that infringe on someone’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
Without any definitions, the law is open for abuse. There are still people in Kentucky who hold the sincere religious beliefs that Blacks are inferior and the spawn of Satan; that women are unclean and subordinate to men; that Jews murdered Christ and deserve to be killed for it; that Catholics are members of a demonic cult; and that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are agents of Satan.
The Senate, which is populated by Republicans, has the votes to override the veto.
One way or the other, this is going to the courts.