Is the Religious Freedom Bill in Danger of Being Vetoed by Gov. Beshear?

House Bill 279 sailed through both the Kentucky House and Senate this session, but now may be in danger of being vetoed by Governor Steve Beshear.

Dr. Paul Chitwood, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, wrote a letter to Gov. Beshear this week urging him to sign the bill and protect religious liberty in the Commonwealth. See a copy of the letter here.

The bill restores the “compelling interest/least restrictive means” as a legal test the government must pass before restricting religious freedom, bringing Kentucky in line with federal judicial standards. Click here to read the bill’s language.

Last Oct. 25, the Kentucky Supreme Court changed the state judicial standard when dealing with religious freedom cases to the “rational basis,” which means government just needs “a reason” to infringe on someone’s religious freedom.

If HB 279 is signed into law, The “compelling interest/least restrictive means” test would be re-established and would mean that the government once again would have to have a compelling interest to restrict religious freedom, and even then it could only use the least restrictive means to accomplish its compelling interest.

Since the bill’s passage, the American Civil Liberties Union and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) opponents of the bill have been urging Gov. Beshear to veto the bill. Vetoing the bill would keep Kentucky out of step with federal courts, which have used the “compelling interest/least restrictive means” test since the 1930s. In 1990, the U.S Supreme Court did the same thing as our Kentucky Supreme Court when it chose the “rational basis” test. Congress corrected the federal court with the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. Our General Assembly is trying to do the same thing now.

What can you do to help?

Call Gov. Beshear’s office at (502) 564-2611 and urge him to sign the Religious Freedom Act (HB 279) into law.

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