Kentucky Religious Freedom Bill: Two Years Later

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Eighteen other states have laws similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. That includes Kentucky, which passed its bill in 2013. Lawmakers had to override a veto from Governor Beshear to pass it.

We all have our beliefs.

"I believe in the 1st Amendment for one thing, and I believe in the protection of religious freedoms," says State Sen. Joe Bowen, R - Daviess County. Bowen, who voted for Kentucky's religious freedom bill, believed more was needed to protect religious freedoms.

"States have their own issues, and people are advocates for state's rights, and for states taking a stand on different issues, whether they be of social nature, a fiscal nature, or an economic nature," he says.

The law, passed two years ago, says the state government can't burden a person's freedom of religion, protecting a person's right to act or refuse based on a sincerely held religious belief. 

Since then, a Kentucky Commission on Human Relations report shows there were 13 cases of religious discrimination statewide reported to them last fiscal year, an increase from 6 in 2013, but officials say they're unsure of any correlation between the rise and the law.

Officials with the Kentucky Equality Federation  say there were fears with the bill giving people right to legally discriminate.  But no complaints based on the law have been filed with them so far.

"We had promised the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the Governor's Office that, if we had any cases where people were discriminated against because of this bill, and it was not constitutional to discriminate, and thus far, we have not received any complaints," says Jordan Palmer of the Kentucky Equality Federation.


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