Kentucky’s Senate on Tuesday passed a ‘religious freedom’ bill that provides businesses in the state a carte blanche license to discriminate against LGBT citizens.
Senate Bill 180 was proposed by Senator Albert Robinson (R) and was passed with an amendment that attempted to limit the scope of the bill. The bill received 22 votes in favor and 16 against.
The bill will undo 8 LGBT nondiscrimination measures in Kentucky, specifically measures in Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead and Vicco.
Breaking KY sen passes religious protection bill 22-16 that may limit LGBT protections—but amendment limits scope pic.twitter.com/3ek0VvaqPo
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) March 15, 2016
Robinson sponsored the bill, he told fellow lawmakers, because “the homosexual community makes it an issue.”
Democrats opposed the measure, including Sen. Reginald Thomas, who argued it would allow discrimination against LGBT people and possibly Jews. “I hope this senate would not pass a bill that promotes hatred and bigotry.”
SB 180 says that no ordinance or public agency shall restrict the rights of people who provide “customized, artistic, expressive, creative, ministerial, or spiritual goods or services.”
Lawmakers questioned whether the bill — particularly given an amendment limiting its scope — would expand the rights of Kentuckians.
But many LGBT advocates have been alarmed.
Eunice Rho, an advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, said the amendment approved Tuesday is “a slight improvement on the current bill since it clarifies that not all public accommodations have a right to discriminate.”
“Nonetheless,” she added by email, “ it still would allow businesses open to the public to pick and choose whom they will serve without regard to local nondiscrimination ordinances or other laws prohibiting such discrimination.”