‘Religious freedom’ measure moves forward in Michigan

Dec 8, 2014

Image: Scott Olson/Getty

By Emma Margolin

Michigan’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a controversial religious freedom bill, teeing up what civil liberties advocates fear will be another wave of GOP-backed legislation that could cripple LGBT rights.

The bill, HB 5958, zipped through the House Judiciary Committee Thursday morning and then the full chamber on a 59-50 party-line vote – all in one day. It now heads to the Republican-controlled state Senate for consideration, and then to the desk of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Also known as the “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” (RFRA,) HB 5958 is modeled after a federal law at issue in the Supreme Court’s notorious Hobby Lobby ruling. That decision determined that closely held corporations, like the evangelical-owned craft chain, wouldn’t have to cover the cost of contraception for their employees based on the owners’ sincerely held religious objections. Nineteen states have adopted RFRA laws that mirror the federal measure, which the high court determined in 1997 did not apply to the states.

Like the federal RFRA, Michigan’s bill protects people from laws that substantially burden their sincerely held religious beliefs, unless the government can prove that the offending law serves a compelling interest and accomplishes that goal using the least restrictive means possible. President Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law in 1993 as a protective measure for religious minorities, something Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger – HB 5958’s sponsor – now points to in the face of accusations that his bill is extreme.

“Do you think that Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy were extremists?” Bolger said in an interview with msnbc. “We modeled [this bill] directly after what they did. I’m baffled to hear that what we’re doing is out of line.”

But opponents say otherwise. While Bolger insists the bill is meant to protect, say, the Muslim butcher who wants to prepare food in line with halal practices, or the Jewish mother who doesn’t want an autopsy performed on her son, civil liberties advocates warn it could be used as a defense for the landlord who wants to evict a gay tenant, or the pharmacist who doesn’t want to provide birth control, all because of sincerely held religious beliefs.


 

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20 comments on “‘Religious freedom’ measure moves forward in Michigan

  • 2
    Miserablegit says:

    Ah yes that well known oxymoron religious freedom. Put simply the insistence of the religious that they must ban everything that they do not agree with.



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  • Religious freedom is about your right to do nutty things in the name of religion without interference. However, it is not a licence to force your nutty ideas on others, or harm other people for religious motives, not even harm your own children.

    “We are gonna to have to choose as a nation between the homosexual agenda and freedom because the two cannot coexist. Every advance of the homosexual agenda, comes at the expense of liberty, particularly religious liberty.”

    ~ Bryan Fischer (born: 1951-04-08 age: 63) head of The American Family Association

    “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

    ~ George Orwell (born: 1903-06-25 died: 1950-01-21 at age: 46)



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  • Roedy Dec 9, 2014 at 1:14 am

    “We are gonna to have to choose as a nation between the homosexual agenda and freedom because the two cannot coexist. Every advance of the homosexual agenda, comes at the expense of liberty, particularly religious liberty.”

    ~ Bryan Fischer (born: 1951-04-08 age: 63) head of The American Family Association

    . … or putting in the missing disingenuous omissions:-

    “We are gonna to have to choose as a nation between the homosexual agenda {of equal rights} and {the} freedom {of assertive religious bigots to dictate to everyone else} because the two cannot coexist.
    Every advance of the homosexual agenda, comes at the expense of {bigots’} liberty {to dominate}, – particularly {the} religious liberty. {to bully, and disregard the rights of other people}
    .



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  • @OP – . . . . the Supreme Court’s notorious Hobby Lobby ruling. That decision determined that closely held corporations, like the evangelical-owned craft chain, wouldn’t have to cover the cost of contraception for their employees based on the owners’ sincerely held religious objections.

    What is needed, is a UK type system, where employers and employees contribute payments to a National Insurance System, and employers have no further involvement in the specification or running of the public services.

    It is the US fixation on de-regulation and privatised services, which is the cause of multitudes of these problems. This makes them the laughing-stock of countries with proper universal healthcare at half the price US citizens pay!



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  • I have the same argument wife every time (she defends a religious person’s right to a religious based bigotry) and I state that people with faith invariably try to impose their completely irrational behaviour onto other people!
    The food, dress and sexuality rules of religion have no place in the 21st century and should be binned with all the rest of mankind’s superstitious nonsense!
    Fortunately in Northern England – Religious people have far less influence than in the USA , however we still have Christian nutters trying to foist their morals into society and the influence of Muslims is rising…..



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  • I know! Why do we have to put-up with these people running their businesses in ways we don’t like? Can’t we pass a law to force them to do things with their property the way we want them to do it? All these pesky property rights are infringing on my ability to have someone else pay for my contraceptives! bunch ‘o bigots!



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  • Robert Dec 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I know! Why do we have to put-up with these people running their businesses in ways we don’t like?

    It comes down to gullible voters electing politicians who are in cahoots with businesses which rip them off – ensuring that they can continue to rip-off Americans, with poorer services for twice the regular price!

    While US people argue about contraceptives, rip-offs by insurance companies and hospitals are apparently OK!!

    http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/2011/04/26/cost-of-health-care-by-country-national-geographic/

    Can’t we pass a law to force them to do things with their property the way we want them to do it?

    Employees health is NOT “their property”, and neither is the money for healthcare, once it is paid as part of an employment package.
    Medical treatment is confidential between doctors and patients. It is none of an employers’ business unless it is affecting their fitness to work, or they are taking time off through ill health!



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  • Que squinting Fry face meme:
    Not sure if first section of reaction has anything to do with what I was talking about.
    Or just an ideological diatribe.

    OK!!!121123

    The employee health package offered is their property, the contents of which is the concern of the company [private in my examples]. If prospect employee is not satisfied with contents of said package, then prospect employee can seek employment elsewhere. There is no [moral] onus on companies to adjust their health care packages to the satisfaction of every malcontent, parasite and fanatic they might possibly employ.

    Seriously, what is the deal with these health care fascists.



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  • Robert Dec 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Not sure if first section of reaction has anything to do with what I was talking about.
    Or just an ideological diatribe.

    You seem to be missing the point, of employer objecting to paying for medical contraceptive services, but ignoring the fact they are paying way over the odds for gross profiteering! – Or it gross profiteering the new morality in right-wing USA?

    The employee health package offered is their property, the contents of which is the concern of the company [private in my examples]. If prospect employee is not satisfied with contents of said package, then prospect employee can seek employment elsewhere.

    Which is precisely why citizens should have a national health service independent of employers as most civilised countries have.

    There is no [moral] onus on companies to adjust their health care packages

    Which is why citizens should not be dependent on employers for their healthcare.

    to the satisfaction of every malcontent, parasite and fanatic they might possibly employ.
    Seriously, what is the deal with these health care fascists.

    This is just pure bigotry against those wanting proper health coverage without employers abusing their positions as employers.
    It is a divide and rule strategy which plays on selfish notions of not paying for other peoples’ treatment, – but of course, collectively paying, for those who need to claim, is the very nature of insurance systems.

    As a UK citizen, for standard deductions from income and a contribution from any employer, I can have free basic healthcare from doctors, ambulances, and hospitals (and dentistry and medicines for standard charges).
    Also included (on application) is a European Health Insurance Card which entitles me to free use of any public health service in Europe by reciprocal arrangement with other European countries.

    Europeans find it difficult to understand why Americans are so determined to shoot themselves in the foot, and be the milch-cows of insurance and medical providers, when it comes to providing value for money public health services for all citizens. Apparently they like handing over lots of their money to insurance salesmen, and paying lawyers to argue, – rather than spending the money on medical equipment, medical staff and medicines!

    I put part of it down to them being fed head-in-the-sand drivel, by the likes of Faux-News and its advertising sponsors!



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  • If you happened to be an American male Robert, you will die two and a half years years earlier than your Dutch equivalent. Infant mortality in the US (0 to 1) is 70% higher. You pay 15% of your GDP to health insurance companies, the Netherlands only 9%. Compare any of the major health metrics and the US rattles around the bottom of “civilised” countries.

    Given the comparison is between nominally private health schemes why the difference? Well, State mandated quality control requirements for health efficacy. In the US these are feeble because of health industry lobbying, in the Netherlands strong, because unfettered free market economies are understood to need a little help to avoid cartel type practises and that other vigorous free market of legal health claims is known to result in fatuous interventions and testing.

    Why is free birth control the best use of health funds and a sensible thing to mandate to improve health performance? Because it ensures there are fewer unwanted babies, many more of which are only go and die in the US and that saves more healthcare money than it costs, taking poor and unwillingly pregnant mothers out of the system and just maybe because it is building a little humanity into that bizarrely selfish US state.

    If you were a seventy five year old American male, Robert, your fit of misplaced free-market pique would be killing you right now and if you had started to feel generous at the end you would be leaving some $200,000 less to your kids. Still, at least your Dutch twin brother can afford to come over and console them for several years.



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  • phil rimmer Dec 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    In the US these are feeble because of health industry lobbying,

    . . . So people end up suing over arguments.

    There’s a lot of money to be made in American healthcare – or so my daughter tells me!
    She used to work in a really plush office on Wall Street: – For a law firm dealing in doctor defence!



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  • 18
    dartagnan says:

    Religious freedom? This is bullshit. The monotheistic god never allows religious freedom. I guess you fools are “standing for your right” against him? Watch out, he might kill your first born.



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