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BREAKING: Kentucky Senate Advances Irresponsible Anti-LGBT RFRA Amendment Bill

by Brandon Lorenz March 15, 2016

Following a vote today by the Kentucky Senate to advance SB 180, HRC and Fairness Campaign, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, called on the Kentucky House to pull back from SB 180, the shameful anti-LGBT bill that would put LGBT people -- and Kentuckians of all walks of life -- at risk for discrimination. SB 180 passed the Kentucky Senate 22-16 today.

SB 180 would undermine state and local protections against discrimination for a host of minority communities in Kentucky by allowing businesses like photographers, tailors, engravers, or any other businesses that provide custom goods and services to discriminate and refuse service for any reason. In addition to putting LGBT people at risk for discrimination, under SB 180, single mothers, interfaith couples, interracial couples are all at risk. A bakery could reuse to provide a birthday cake to an African-American, or a photography studio could refuse photographs for a muslim family under this bill.

“Freedom of religion is a basic bedrock foundation of our government, which is exactly why it is already protected by the First Amendment. SB 180 wouldn’t protect our freedom, but instead will put all Kentuckians at risk for discrimination,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Leadership in the Kentucky House should stop this reckless and irresponsible bill in its tracks and ensure that everyone, including LGBT people, can live free from fear of discrimination in Kentucky.”

"This is an incredibly disappointing day in the Kentucky Senate," shared Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. "Despite bi-partisan opposition to this 'License to Discriminate,' our Senate has sent the message that Kentucky may not be open for business for everyone. We hope Kentucky House leaders will show greater wisdom and give this piece of legislation as much consideration as it deserves--none."

SB 180 would undermine local non-discrimination protections on the books in the Kentucky cities that have ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

New polling from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute this year found that a 56 percent majority of Kentuckians oppose a bills like SB 180 that would allow small business owners to deny service to LGBT people -- even for so-called religious reasons -- only 37 percent support such a bill.

When similar legislation was taken up in Indiana last year, the debate cost the state as much as $60 million in convention revenue alone from lost business, according to a recent survey. The survey from Visit Indy found that “12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial religious objections law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.”

The attacks on fairness and equality in Kentucky are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills in 32 states. For more information, visit:

Brandon Lorenz
Brandon Lorenz


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