Yesterday, the Michigan House passed a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would essentially allow people to get away with discrimination if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. (A similar bill was vetoed earlier this year in Arizona by Governor Jan Brewer.)
Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills, said the legislation could create a new right for service providers to discriminate against people who don’t adhere to their religious beliefs. She cited a scenario in which a pharmacist could refuse to dispense drugs to an individual who’s personal decisions don’t match the teachings of their faith.
“I should not be forced to follow the religion of my pharmacist,” Barnett said.
Susan Grettenberger, a Central Michigan University professor and social worker, said the religious freedom bill could have seriously harmful consequences, giving an example of a social worker who refused to counsel people based on religious beliefs that didn’t support homosexuality.
“Social workers who are opposed to war on religious ground could refuse to serve military members,” she said. “If their religion excludes the use of alcohol, they could refuse a client with substance abuse problems.”
Barnett and other Democrats said the bill would create legal conflicts with the state’s anti-discrimination law and spawn a rash of new lawsuits.
“That’s something I would concede that we simply cannot control,” said Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant.
House Bill 5958 passed 59-50 along party lines. Now, it’ll go to the Republican-led Senate and the Republican Governor. I wonder what’ll happen…
It’s unnecessary, too, since religious rights are already protected under the current law. But that’s what happened when you elect politicians who believe it’s Christians who have it roughest in society. Because the people who need the most protection are bakers who might have to make a cake for a gay wedding, not the gay people.
I’m sure the legislature’s next bill will finally give wealthy people the government benefits they need to stay afloat in this economy.
(Thanks to everyone for the link)