Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a “license to discriminate” bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.
The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an EMT to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.
The measure is similar to one in Arizona that even right-wing governor Jan Brewer thought went too far and vetoed.
As The New Civil Rights Movement points out, the act is so broad it would let a Catholic high school refuse to hire a Muslim janitor, and a DMV clerk deny a new driver’s license to someone who is divorced.
Michigan Speaker Bolger fasttracked the bill, which passed 59-50 along party lines. “I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom,” Bolger said. “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.”
If it passes in the Michigan Senate and is signed by Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will become law.
“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,” said Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan.
In a supreme bit of irony, the Michigan House over the weekend to pass a non-discrimination bill that protects the LGBT community.
“No one from the LGBT community has ever had fire hoses turned on them by the police department, they have never had to drink out of an LGBT water fountain,” pastor Stacy Swimp told the House committee that considered the measure. “There is no record of LGBT — homosexuals, lesbians—being forced to sit at the back of the bus in an LGBT section.”