Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) has re-introduced the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MiRFRA). That’s legislation lovingly dubbed “license to discriminate” by activists because it justifies nearly all discrimination, as long as a person claims a “sincerely held religious belief” to back it up.
For those who have been living under a rock for the past several months, MiRFRA is legislation originally introduced by former Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) as a “balance” to legislative activity to amend the state’s civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. While the move to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) failed, Bolger was undeterred and pushed his MiRFRA legislation through the House. It died in the Senate at the end of the lame duck session in 2014.
“Sadly, it’s not surprising that the GOP-controlled Senate reintroduced a discriminatory piece of legislation like RFRA that serves no real purpose other than to further enshrine backwards thinking into our state government,” says Sam Inglot of Progress Michigan. “Bigotry and discrimination have no place in Michigan, whether it’s coming from Gov. Snyder, Dave Agema or the Tea Party. Michiganders won’t stand for legislation that makes us a national embarrassment and only drives hardworking people and loving families from our state.”
There’s an irony here that as Gov. Rick Snyder was dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s for his state of the state address on Tuesday, Jan. 20, Shirkey was pushing his legislation in the Senate. It was formally introduced and referred to the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. So what irony? Well, Snyder took the opportunity in the state of the state address to call for “more dialogue” about amending the law at the same time Shirkey was creating a special rights bill to allow religious discrimination.
Oh, and that dialogue? Don’t expect it from the even further right wing House. Speaker Kevin Cotter (R- Mt.Pleasant) — who is beholden to the unholy right wing trinity of Reps. Todd Courser (R-Lapeer), Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell ) and Gary Glenn (R-Midland) — told the Detroit Free Press “that’s a discussion we had last session,” and, “I’m not looking to bring that up.”
“Talk is cheap,” Inglot said. “The Michigan GOP can’t seem to get Agema to stop talking and it’s time for Gov. Snyder to take real leadership instead of offering more hollow words.”