The Associated Press reports:
Kentucky’s Republican governor says he will not use the state’s new GOP majority to push through a bill restricting transgender bathroom use. Matt Bevin held a news conference Friday to discuss his first year in office and look ahead to the 2017 legislative session, where Republicans will hold super majorities in both chambers for the first time.
Bevin earlier this year joined a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s directive that public schools allow students to use the bathroom of their gender identity. But Friday, Bevin said Kentucky has no need to pass a law restricting transgender bathroom use because it is not an issue here.
A North Carolina law has prompted condemnation from business leaders and was one of many factors contributing to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s narrow re-election loss.
Meanwhile Kentucky’s S.B. 180, which creates “protected rights” and “protected activities” — in short, nobody has to serve anybody else if it violates their conscience to do so, is being looked at for the 2017 session.
“Protected activities” specifically refers to actions conducted by professionals who “provide customized, artistic, expressive, creative, ministerial, or spiritual goods or services,” which is specifically designed to address wedding vendors and others who might be disposed to refuse service because of a customer’s sexuality. The “protected rights” means that the government can not in any way impede on those activities if it violates the person’s “right of conscience” or other First Amendment protections.
Sponsor Sen. Albert Robinson (R) claimed the bill was necessary because gay people “are trying to force their beliefs down the throats” of those who oppose marriage equality. To try to make the case that his legislation wasn’t just designed to discriminate against LGBT people, he also claimed it was necessary to protect a Jewish baker from making a cake with a swastika for Nazis. Not only has there never been such a conflict, but being a Nazi is not a protected class under any Kentucky law, so a Jewish baker could already refuse to produce such a hateful symbol.