License to hate: Calling it religious freedom, Republicans in the Michigan House have pushed through a draconian measure that would allow individuals to discriminate against gays and others based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The Republican-led House voted 59-50 along party lines Thursday to pass the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, HB 5958.
The bill supposedly providing protections for people with sincerely held religious beliefs was put on a fast track Thursday, passing out of the House Judiciary committee and the full House of Representatives on a straight party line vote.
HB 5958 now moves to the Republican controlled state Senate.
House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) denies his legislation would provide a “license to discriminate.”
Bolger, defending his legislation, said:
“I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom. I have been horrified as some have claimed that a person’s faith should only be practiced while hiding in their home or in their church.”
However, Democrats and others in opposition to the draconian legislation say the bill would allow people to discriminate against gays and others.
Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills said:
The New Civil Rights Movement reports that under Michigan’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control, or HIV medication. An emergency room physician or EMT could refuse service to a gay person in need of immediate treatment. A school teacher could refuse to mentor the children of a same-sex couple, and a DMV clerk could refuse to give a driver’s license to a person who is divorced.
“This bill moves us in a new and unchartered directions. It requires me and others to practice the faith of our employers, grocers and pharmacists.”
Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan, said:
“The idea that we need to ‘restore’ religious freedom — rights that are already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — is a farce created by conservative lawmakers for the sole purpose of appeasing their far-right donors and the religious-right. This extreme bill attempts to solve a problem that does not exist, promotes discrimination and does nothing to make Michigan a better place to live.”
The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act has nothing to do with religious freedom, and everything to do with Christian hate and bigotry. The legislation represents a shameful attempt to justify the most nefarious theocratic impulses, and is a blatant attempt to subvert the secular values upon which this nation was founded.
No one’s civil rights should ever be sacrificed on the altar of another’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”