Kentucky Seeks to Legalize Discrimination Against Gays Based on Religious Beliefs

A pending bill in the Kentucky state legislature could pave the way for increased discrimination against LGBT people. Patheos notes that human rights groups are going to battle against a bill that would allow residents to sidestep anti-discrimination laws if they pointed to “sincerely” held “religious beliefs” that justify their actions.

The bill is sponsored by a conservative Democrat and has already passed the State Senate. The legislation would boost someone’s ability to “ignore state regulations or laws that contradict his or her ‘sincerely held’ religious beliefs,” Patheos blogger Camille Beredjick notes.

Gay rights groups are up in arms. “House Bill 279 represents a clear and present danger to the gay and lesbian community and other minority groups around the commonwealth. [The bill] does 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,” a letter from the Kentucky Equality Federation to the Senator who introduced the bill states, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

One State Senator, Democrat Kathy Stein, said that the legislation is “a sword to be used against minorities” and is unconstitutional.

Kentucky has no statewide ordinance against discrimination against LGBT people, but four cities in the state do have anti-discrimination laws. The bill could make it easier for people in those cities to discriminate at will against gay people.

The governor of the state, Steve Beshear, has not signaled what he will do with the bill yet.
 

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