Kentucky House Bill 279, which overwhelmingly passed the State House last week, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-2 Wednesday. It goes to the full Senate, which last year overwhelmingly endorsed a similar measure.
The bill would allow business owners and individuals defy state and local civil-rights laws, including those in four Kentucky cities: Covington, Louisville, Lexington and Vicco that prohibit anti-gay discrimination.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky opposes the bill unless it’s amended to include explicit exemptions for civil-rights laws. Such an amendment failed in the House last week.
“Without those civil-rights protections, we fear the worst,” Derek Selznick of the ACLU .
The bill could not only invite legal challenges to local gay-rights laws but also to statewide civil-rights protections for such groups as racial minorities and women.
“All it does is restore the standard by which a decision by the state to infringe on somebody’s religious liberty would be measured,” said the Rev. Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the lobbying arm of the state’s bishops.
HB 279 is modeled on the federal 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Source: The Courier Ledger