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Ky. governor vetoes rental bill for faith groups; override doubtful

FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP)–A proposal to exempt religious organizations from renting facilities to groups that hold incompatible religious views has been vetoed by Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton.

House Bill 70, sponsored by Rep. Tom Kerr, sought to exclude church camps and other religious-related facilities from Kentucky’s civil rights laws. The bill passed the House by a vote of 82-17 and then passed the Senate 17-12. Patton held the bill two weeks before vetoing it March 8, the day it would have become law with or without his signature.

Supporters of the bill view it as a religious freedom issue while opponents voice concerns over limiting civil rights. The Kentucky Baptist Public Affairs Committee has voted to urge the legislature to override Patton’s veto.

In his veto message, Patton noted that religious organizations are not required to open their facilities to the general public. Religious groups that do rent their facilities to the public “must obey the same laws that non-religious entities are required to obey.”

He said HB 70 “violates both the spirit and the meaning of the Kentucky Civil Rights Acts by permitting discrimination on the basic of religion.”

Kerr said he disagrees with Patton’s view. “I think the original civil rights measure went too far,” he said. “I think churches should have discretion in who uses their facilities. That’s a basic principle of the free exercise of religion.”

Kerr said he will lead efforts to override the governor’s action. The House has enough votes for an override but the Senate’s previous vote on the issue is three votes short of the two-thirds needed for an override.

    About the Author

  • Trennis Henderson

    Trennis Henderson is the national correspondent for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union). A Baptist journalist for more than 35 years, Henderson is a former editor of the Western Recorder of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Arkansas Baptist News state convention newsjournal.

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