03/12/2013 10:07 am ET

Kentucky Religious Freedom Bill: Groups Press Steve Beshear To Veto HB279

Human rights and civil liberties groups are up in arms over Kentucky's religious freedom bill, contending that the legislation could restrict the rights of certain Americans.

HB279 specifies that "government shall not burden a person's or religious organization's freedom of religion," while protecting "the right to act or refuse to act on religious grounds."

In a press release issued Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) cautioned that without protections for civil rights laws, LGBT people, women and minorities could be susceptible to discrimination.

"We want to prevent religion from being used to defy any anti-discrimination laws -- federal, state or local," the ACLU wrote.

The Lexington Herald-Leader adds that sponsoring Rep. Bob Damron (D-Nicholasville) sees the bill as similar to both a 1993 federal law and 12 state laws already in effect. Both the Kentucky House and Senate have passed the bill, leaving Gov. Steve Beshear (D) with three options: a) signing the legislation, b) vetoing it or c) letting it become law without a signature.

The Kentucky Equality Federation echoed the concerns of the ACLU earlier this month, specifically pointing to the "danger" that looms for the LGBT community.

"Both the Kentucky and U.S. constitutions provide for freedom of religion and Kentucky Equality Federation supports freedom of religion," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "However, what we need is freedom from religion; lawmakers use religion as a means to deny someone a fundamental civil right."



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