Kentucky Bill Relating to Protections of Religious Organizations (HB 372)
This law was last updated on Sep 6, 2018
As introduced, HB 372 would would create government protections for the “sincerely held” religious beliefs or moral convictions of religious organizations. The bill would allow private businesses to legally refuse service to LGBTQ people based on the owner’s religious belief.
HB 372 states that the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the beliefs or convictions:
- Regarding the sex of the two individuals who may enter into a marriage;
- That male and man or female and woman refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.
The bill defines “religious organization” to mean:
- A house of worship, including but not limited to churches, synagogues, shrines, mosques, and temples;
- A religious group, corporation, association, school or educational institution, ministry, order, society, or similar entity, regardless of whether it is integrated or affiliated with a church or other house of worship; or
- An officer, owner, employee, manager, religious leader, clergy, or minister of any such entity or organization.
Protections for Religious Organizations
The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against a religious organization on the basis that the organization:
- Declines to solemnize a marriage, provide services, facilities, or goods or privileges for the purpose of a marriage ceremony.
- Makes any employment-related decision based on a “sincerely held” religious belief;
- Makes any decision concerning the sale, rental, occupancy of, or terms and conditions of occupying a dwelling or other housing under its control, based on a “sincerely held” religious belief.
The bill would allow a religious organization to assert a violation of this law as a claim against the state government in any judicial or administrative proceeding or as defense in any proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought by or in the name of the state government, any private person, or any other party. The bill further provides for injunctive relief. A religious organization would be required to bring an action to assert a claim under this law within 2 years of the disciplinary action taking place.
Portions of this bill are identical to Mississippi’s HB 1523 (2016), which became law in January, 2018, after a legal challenge to the law failed.
Kentucky established the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2013, which prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s freedom of religion, unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.
A majority of the provisions of the first draft of the bill were removed while in committee. The amended version would define “religious organization” and establish several factors for determining if an organization is religious.
The amended draft would establish that no religious organization, its employees acting within the scope of their employment, or a member of the clergy may be required to perform a marriage or to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to performance of a marriage if the action would violate a “sincerely held religious belief.”
This version passed the house on March 16, 2018, by an 85-2 vote.
- Larry Brown
- Chris Fugate
- Regina Huff
- Steve Riley
- Rob Rothenburger
- Daniel Elliott
- James Tipton
- Danny Bentley
- Mark Hart
- Robert Mills
- Melinda Prunty
- John Blanton
- Matt Castlen
- DJ Johnson
- William Brandon Reed
- Walker Thomas
- David Hale
- Jim Duplessis
- Robert Benvenuti III
- Kevin Bratcher
- John Carney
- Tim Couch
- Myron Dossett
- Joseph Fischer
- Jim Gooch Jr.
- Richard Heath
- Kenny Imes
- Kim King
- Stan Lee
- Brian Linder
- Donna Mayfield
- Suzanne Miles
- Tim Moore
- Bart Rowland
- Tommy Turner
- Russell Webber
- Addia Wuchner