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Religious Freedom Bill Passes, Rep. Simpson Changes Vote

UPDATE: State Rep. Arnold Simpson tells RCN why he changed his vote:

I did change my vote predicated upon the concerns expressed relative to the possible interpretation of the bill to negate civil rights laws.  Although, I know that was not the intention of the bill, the mere possibility that it could be used to compromise laws protecting civil rights precluded my support of the bill.


House Bill 279, the Religious Freedom bill which passed the House by an 82-7 margin last week also passed with wide support in the Senate 29-6. It aims to strengthen a citizen's ability to ignore state laws and regulations that go against their religious beliefs. Opponents have argued that the bill hurts human rights ordinances passed in four Kentucky cities, including Covington. Earlier this week, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights asked for changes to the legislation.

From the Herald-Leader

Opponents contend that the bill impacts a person’s civil rights and could be used to discriminate against gay, lesbian and other populations not covered by federal civil rights laws.

Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said the bill is “a sword to be used against minorities” and is unconstitutional.

She contended that under the bill a man could slap his wife and claim that he believes that the Bible teaches that a woman is to be subservient to her husband.

That prompted Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, to say Jesus Christ was “the greatest equalizer for equal rights for women.”

(SEE MORE: WFPL & cn|2)

Covington Democratic State Representative Arnold Simpson originally voted in favor of the legislation. On Tuesday he filed a vote modification to change his yea vote to nay. Several other representatives who did not vote originally also filed vote modifications and all five voted in favor of the bill changing the count in the House from 82-7 to 87-8.

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Beshear for approval. 

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