Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a bill known as the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA). According to MSNBC, the bill protects people’s religious freedom by preventing any laws that would hinder their ability to practice their religion freely. The exception is if a conflicting law “serves a compelling interest and accomplishes that goal using the least restrictive means possible.”
This bill will lead to discrimination and a possible decrease in resources and services offered to others. For example people can be denied any form of birth control due a pharmacist’s religious beliefs or hospitals can refuse to terminate pregnancies due to medical complications because of their religion. The bill can have a huge impact on the LGBT community since many religions condemn homosexuality. People part of the LGBT community can get turned down from businesses people regularly go to for services and commodities to being kicked out of their apartments because of the landlord’s religious beliefs. It can even be as serious as getting rejected from a hospital because of conflicting views on the LGBT community. This could be potentially life threatening for many people under serious circumstances where someone needs to get to a hospital quickly and the closest one is Catholic-owned.
The bill is a serious issue, but an even bigger issue is that the anti-discrimination laws in the United States only make discrimination illegal against people based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. These laws don’t protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Less than half of the states have passed laws that prohibit this kind of discrimination. Michigan is not on that list and so the LGBT community in Michigan is not protected from the sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.
It is important to allow people to exercise their religion but it is equally important to protect every single person’s civil rights. A step that should have already happened, but now needs to be taken next is include sexual orientation and gender identity under the country’s anti-discrimination laws.