Congratulations, Michigan! Your citizens are now one step closer to enjoying the sacred freedom to discriminate, just as long as they are really sure that an invisible man in the sky tells them it’s cool with Him.
On Thursday, the Michigan House passed the “Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which would supposedly protect people of faith by allowing them to refuse services on the basis of religious beliefs. Poor oppressed bakers will never have to bake a penis cake, and pharmacists can refuse to dispense legal medications if their holy books tell them that God wants people to make all the babbies they can. It’s not yet clear whether the bill will actually require that drug stores hire Christian Scientist pharmacists who will then demand to be paid to dispense nothing, but we’re sure there’ll be a test case soon enough.
The bill was originally intended to “balance” an amendment to Michigan’s civil rights law that would have expanded protections for LGBT people, but in a slick bit of maneuvering, House Speaker Jase Bolger — you remember him, he’s the one who really hates vagina — managed to kill off the civil-rights bill while passing the freedom-to-discriminate law. He originally agreed that the bills should be paired, but then backed out because while he was OK with a little bit of limited protection for gays and lesbians, the protection of treansgender people was just more than he could bear. So suck it, no protection against LGBT discrimination at all, and a shiny new bill to protect the sacred right of the religiously inclined to discriminate.
Some of the anti-God opponents of the “Religious Freedom” bill noted that the Constitution already protects religious freedom, and opposed the measure since it twists the definition of “religious liberty” to allow discrimination in the name of religious belief:
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.”
On the other hand, Speaker Bolger argued that if the government forces people to bake wedding cakes for people who do sex in the wrong orifices, that would make us a lot like Communistical China:
“I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom,” Bolger said [Thursday]. “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.”
Of course not! Your religion belongs out in public, where you can have the freedom to refuse to let sluts buy birth control pills, even if you’re the only pharmacist in a small town. That’s what freedom is all about, isn’t it? (Despite rumors, there is not a specific clause in the bill that would allow EMTs to refuse to treat gay people in an emergency. Then again, the thing is so broadly written that it’s conceivable an EMT might decide to refuse emergency services, then take their chances in court.)
Besides, it’s not as if the gays actually suffer any discrimination, as pastor Stacy Swimp (nope, not making that up) testified before a state House committee:
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. There is no record of LGBT — homosexuals, lesbians being forced to sit at the back of the bus in an LGBT section.
Because being fired or evicted for being gay is pretty benign stuff by comparison, and what are those compared to the oppression of being told that your business has to serve all people equally? If Christians can’t kick gay people out of their businesses, aren’t they really the ones with a firehose of Big Government turned on them?
In addition to the broader freedom-to-discriminate bill, the Michigan House also passed a package of bills aimed at protecting the rights of adoption agencies to “refuse services to people if that violated their sincerely held religious beliefs,” so that’s nice too.
The bill now goes to the state Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans, although a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said that the Senate GOP caucus had not yet made plans for the bills. If they aren’t passed by the Senate before the end of the current term, they would have to be re-introduced in next year’s session. Gov. Rick Snyder has not yet said whether he would sign it even if it does pass, so there’s a sliver of hope for either a sudden bout of lethargy among members of the Michigan State Senate, or that Snyder will pull a Jan Brewer and veto the thing.