Doctors and EMTs in Michigan may soon be able to refuse to treat gay patients. That’s if a proposed bill approved by the state’s Republican-led House of Representatives becomes law.
[The] Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act essentially states that people do not have to perform an act that would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
“For example, a Christian doctor who does not believe in a gay lifestyle would not have to treat a gay patient,” CBS Detroit legal analyst Charlie Langton said. “Or perhaps, a Jewish butcher would not have to handle non-Kosher meat.”
Opponents say the bill, which is modeled after a federal law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, legalizes discrimination. Critics say extreme cases may unfairly deny people basic rights.
House Speaker Jase Bolger,who sponsored the bill, said the intention is to protect people’s religious beliefs from government overreach.
“The individual must show they have a sincerely held religious belief that has been substantially burdened,” Bolger, a Republican, said in a statement. “This bill is not a license to discriminate; the courts have already demonstrated for decades that wild claims will not be supported.”
“These bills are about the individual freedoms and rights that our country was founded on,” Republican Rep. Greg MacMaster, who voted for the bill, said in a statement. “Michigan residents simply need the reassurance that they can practice their faith without the fear of being harassed or sued, or their businesses threatened by government action.”
If state senators want to act of the bill, they’ll have to do it quick as the legislative session ends next week. The bill will die if not voted on. At least 19 states have approved laws mirroring the federal law, which prevents the government from imposing a burden on the exercise of religion for anything other than a compelling government interest pursued in the least restrictive way.
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