In an attack on the rights of LGBT citizens in the state of Kentucky, a Democratic Senator has introduced a bill that would allow Kentuckians to sidestep anti-discrimination laws in the name of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
House Bill 279, sponsored by Conservative Democrat Rep. Bob Damron, was not only introduced, but has alarmingly passed in the State Senate. The bill would allow anyone to “ignore state regulations or laws that contradict his or her ‘sincerely held’ religious beliefs.”
That means conservative Christians and other groups could deny certain types of people access to public facilities, employment opportunities or housing if the denial is based on “sincerely held” beliefs.
“House Bill 279 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,” wrote the Kentucky Equality Federation to Gov. Steve Beshear, who has not yet publicly stated how he will respond to the bill.
There is currently no statewide protection for the LGBT community—or even nationwide for that matter—and only four Kentucky cities have ordinances that protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Damron sees the bill as similar to a federal law enacted in 1993, as well as laws in 12 other states.
Ashley Wright is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.