Michigan Bill Could Deny Gay People Medical Care – Fiction! & Disputed!

Michigan Bill Could Deny Gay People Medical Care – Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:
A bill would enable medical providers in Michigan to deny care to gay people based on religious beliefs.
The Truth:

It’s true that a bill in Michigan could limit the state’s ability to interfere with individuals’ religious beliefs, but it doesn’t specifically address medical providers or gay people.

Still, critics argue that the bill could pave the way for discrimination based on things like sexual orientation and religious beliefs in healthcare and other areas.

The bill in question is HB 5958, more commonly known as the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):

“A bill to limit governmental action that substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion; to set forth legislative findings; to provide for asserting a burden on exercise of religion as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding; and to provide remedies.”

The eRumor’s claim that the bill could lead to healthcare providers denying care to gay people started as one of the hypothetical situations cited by Michigan RFRA’s critics. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, for example, said:

“(The bill) would allow people to put their religious beliefs ahead on the public good. If it passes, it will permit people to take advantage of the law to claim that their religion gives them the right to ignore criminal and civil laws — non-discrimination laws, child abuse laws and domestic violence laws.
This means a police officer could refuse to defend a mosque or synagogue, a school guidance counselor could deny help to a gay student, a landlord could refuse to rent to a single mother, or a man could claim that he has a religious right to discipline his wife and kids as he sees fit — all based on their religious beliefs.”

But Republican State Rep. Jase Bolger, who sponsored the Michigan RFRA, countered that the bill would establish a “two-part balance test” in a prepared statement:

“The individual must show they have a sincerely held religious belief that has been substantially burdened. On balance, the government must show it has a compelling interest that cannot be achieved in a less restrictive way before it can overrule an individual’s religious beliefs.”

Michigan’s RFRA is based on a federal version of the legislation that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993 in an effort to protect religious minorities. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 1997 case that the federal RFRA could not be applied to local and state governments.

The federal RFRA returned to the spotlight in October of 2013 when it served as the foundation for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the government couldn’t force Hobby Lobby to provide certain forms of birth control to its employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Michigan’s RFRA has been approved by the Michigan House of Representatives. It must be approved by the Michigan Senate and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder to become law.