Governor Beshear Vetoes House Bill 279


Jordan Palmer, President

The Kentucky Equality Federation is ecstatic to hear and report of Governor Beshear’s veto of House Bill 279, the ‘Forced Religion Imposition Act.’

I have spoken in detail to officials in the Governor’s Office as well as senior Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo, also the chair of the House Standing Committee on Economic Development about House Bill 279. Senior Representative Palumbo changed her vote once she realized the far reaching implications House Bill 279 has.

People and organizations around the commonwealth from mayors to citizen activists organized to oppose this dreadful and hurtful legislation. Kentucky Equality Federation has pushed to have this bill vetoed before it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats, this is legislation we couldn’t kill with a simple telephone call or meeting.

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.

Both Republicans and Democrats need to think carefully before deciding to override a veto since the governor and his legal staff has listened to both sides of the argument.

House Bill 279 did nothing more than give people permission to discriminate based on their religious beliefs thereby taking it beyond ‘freedom of religion’ to ‘forced religion’ because they have imposed their religious beliefs on others with legal authority to do so.

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.