Kentucy Governor Steve Beshear has announced he is vetoing a controversial religious freedom bill. Civil rights groups had urged a veto, saying the measure would essentially legalize certain forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians by groups and individuals who could claim they were doing so because of their religious beliefs.
Some church groups from across the state have been urging Beshear to sign the bill, saying it would give stronger legal standing to people who claim their religious rights have been violated.
“Religious freedom is a cornerstone of this great nation, and a right enshrined in both the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “I value and cherish our rights to religious freedom and I appreciate the good intentions of House Bill 279 and the members of the General Assembly who supported this bill to protect our constitutional rights to practice our religion."
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is scheduled to headline the Iowa Republican party’s Lincoln Day Dinner in May. While members of Congress often take part in speaking engagements in other states, Sen. Paul’s appearance in Iowa is making news because the event always creates buzz about the upcoming presidential race.
The Hawkeye State has been a traditional launching pad for presidential candidates from both parties, given that the Iowa caucuses serve as the country’s first major electoral event in the presidential nominating process.
Paul, a Bowling Green Republican, has admitted he is considering a run for the White House in 2016, and attracted a lot of popular press in conservative circles when he launched a 13-hour filibuster earlier this month against the nomination of John Brennan to be C.I.A. chief.
Earlier this week, Paul told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that the country needs to find a way to give legal status to undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. While stopping short of saying there should be a pathway to citizenship for such workers, Paul’s latest statements were much more moderate than his previous positions on immigration.
Kentuckians have 590 days-plus before the 2014 general election, but already the political chatter is centered on potential challengers to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell—chiefly actress Ashley Judd and her potential candidacy's supposed strengths and weaknesses.
But Judd isn't the only possible candidate. Many veteran Kentucky political operatives—not to mention rural Democrats—are pushing a prospective Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes candidacy over Judd's. And some Tea Party groups are pushing Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin as a possible challenger to McConnell in the Republican primary.
With so many stories, quotes and talk flying around on these three candidates, here's a look at the positives and negatives that each could bring to the table in 2014. The list is by no means exhaustive, but's a reflection of what's being said publicly and privately in Kentucky and national political circles.
* Near universal name recognition. Supporters point out that Judd's work as an actress, plus as a prominent University of Kentucky basketball fan, gives her the best name ID of any candidate rumored in the race. And they point out that good name ID leaves more money to use on things other than introductory ads.