Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed the controversial religious-freedom Kentucky Bill 279 Friday afternoon. The Bill would allow religious individuals, organizations, and business owners with a “sincerely held” belief to openly defy state and local civil-rights laws, including those set in place in four Kentucky cities: Covington, Louisville, Lexington and Vicco that prohibit anti-gay discrimination.
“I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individuals’ civil rights,” Beshear said in a statement. “As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation.”
The sponsor of House Bill 279, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, (YES A DEMOCRAT) said he thinks he’ll have the 51 votes required to override the veto if House leaders decide to take a vote. Damron said Beshear, a Democrat, did not ask him or Democratic House leaders to refrain from trying to override the bill during a conversation of more than an hour Friday in the governor’s Capitol office.
In a written statement, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said, “The Senate is prepared to override the veto of HB 279 if and when the Speaker moves to do so. As a House bill, that chamber must act on the bill first.”
Gay rights groups applauded Beshear on Friday for vetoing the bill.