Human Rights

Michigan House Just Passed Bill That Would Deprive LGBT People of Their Most Basic Rights

All under the guise of religious freedom.

The Michigan House of Representatives just gave the nod to bigots to discriminate against LGBT people under the guise of religious freedom. The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” a bill that allows people with “deeply held religious beliefs” to deny LGBT people services, including life-saving healthcare or medication, was passed by statehouse Republicans this weekend. It now heads to the state Senate, and if it clears a majority there, will head to the desk of Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

If this latest right-to-discriminate bill sounds familiar, that’s because it is: a similar anti-gay law in Arizona turned out to be so unpopular that even Tea Party darling Jan Brewer vetoed it. The New Civil Rights Movement notes that the bill would allow for “rampant discrimination” in the provision of even the most necessary of services:

"For example, under the Religious Freedom law, 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."

Michigan’s Republican Speaker Jase Bolger issued a statement claiming he supports the bill in an effort to promote “individual liberty.” Said Bolger, “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.”

The Michigan legislation comes ahead of the announcement of a major anti-LGBT discrimination bill at the federal level. TIME reports that Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley is gearing up to propose a bill that will target LGBT discrimination in housing, employment, education and more. 

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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