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Ky. lawmakers override governor's veto of religious freedom bill, opponents fear lawsuits

Kentucky lawmakers have voted to override the governor's veto of a bill intended to better protect legal claims of religious freedom.

The law will give stronger legal standing to people in court who claim the government burdened their ability to practice their religion. The legislation protects "sincerely held religious beliefs" from infringement unless there is "a compelling governmental interest." The courts will still consider and rule on each matter.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed the bill Friday over concerns that someone's claim of religious freedom could undermine civil rights protections for gays and lesbians and lead to costly lawsuits for taxpayers.

But bill sponsors said it would only provide a higher level of legal protection that already exists on the federal level and in at least 16 states. The debate pitted civil liberties groups like the ACLU against religious organizations such as the Catholic Conference of Kentucky. Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override.

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