Michigan governor: I’ll veto religious liberty bill if it comes to my desk
April 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) –Michigan's Republican governor says he won't sign a religious liberty bill if it reaches his desk.
"Given all the events that are happening in Indiana, I thought it would be good to clarify my position," Governor Rick Snyder told the Detroit Free Press. "I would veto RFRA legislation in Michigan if it is a standalone piece of legislation."
Snyder's reaction comes after a week of economic threats from gay activists and their corporate and political allies against Indiana after that state's governor signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Indiana law is almost identical to laws already in place in other states to protect religious people from government overreach by allowing them a day in court to maintain that their sincerely held beliefs should not be impinged by a government interest.
"I thought it was appropriate to clarify my position," continued Snyder. "There are strong feelings on these issues. We're working hard to see if there is a better way to address religious freedom and equality."
According to Snyder, any RFRA legislation would have to include separate legislation to expand a law that prevents religious people from choosing whether to hire or provide housing to active homosexuals.
RFRAs are law in 20 states, and the federal RFRA law was passed by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president in 1993
Three religious liberty bills are currently being considered in the Michigan legislature, according to the Free Press. One is the RFRA legislation Snyder is threatening to veto, though sponsor Mike Shirkey, a Republican, said he would continue to work to pass the bill. The other bills would allow faith-based adoption agencies to decide to refuse adoption for people whose circumstances violate their beliefs, such as unmarried couples or same-sex couples; and allowing medical personnel and hospitals to withhold services that violate their religious beliefs.
Snyder is not the only Republican now suddenly shying away from RFRA legislation due to an intense national intimidation campaign from pro-gay forces. Montana and Georgia legislatures have stopped their bills, and Arkansas' governor says he would veto a traditional RFRA bill. North Carolina's governor has attacked the Indiana law, as has the GOP mayor of Indianapolis.
A proposed "fix" to the Indiana law is expected to be signed by Governor Mike Pence this week. However, Becket Fund Senior Counsel Mark Rienzi said in a statement today that Pence's "fix" would violate the principle of religious liberty.
"The proposed 'fix' to Indiana’s RFRA is unnecessary. Our country has had over 20 years of experience with RFRAs and we know what they do: They provide crucial protections to religious minorities. The key disagreement is over what should happen in a very small class of cases where individuals are asked to participate in a same-sex wedding in violation of their religious beliefs," said Rienzi.
"In that situation, there are two possibilities: (1) Our government can drive religious people out of business, fine them, and possibly even imprison them; or (2) our government can say that these religious people deserve a day in court, and that courts should carefully balance religious liberty with other competing values. The original RFRA would give people their day in court; the proposed 'fix' would be a green light for driving religious people out of business. Our society should not settle this issue by punishing religious people before they even have their day in court."
In a media conference call at 12:15 attended by LifeSiteNews, Rienzi also criticized gay activists for death threats sent to an Indiana restaurant that said it serves homosexuals, but theoretically would not be able to serve a same-sex "wedding" ceremony. That business has now closed down due to the death threats and other harassment, and Rienzi criticized the use of government dictates and threats when values conflict.