Tag Archives: Gay Rights

Straight pride fliers removed from college campus

Straight pride fliers removed from college campus

straight pride gay

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Leaders with the Student Government Association at Youngstown State University said they decided to act quickly this week when posters showed up on campus promoting “Straight Pride” week next month.

The posters contained profanity, which our station has blurred for viewers. The posters promote the event as a way of not showing the differences between students.

Campus leaders said while they believe the posters were meant more as satire, especially since no names were associated with them, they determined the flyers went too far with their message.

“When you are talking about minority activism, it is very easy that if you are in the majority to say ‘well, this sort of activism is not necessary. This sort of zeal in your activism is over the top.’ For minorities who experience discrimination, that is not the case,” Student Government Vice President Jacob Schriner-Biggs said.

After consulting with the Vice President of Student Life, it was decided to take the posters down, not necessarily because of its topic but because of the coarse language.

“We have to be careful with the whole free speech issue. But then if you actually read through it, it seemed like it went way further than a free speech issue. There were swear words and took it a little further than the average free speech should go,” Student Government President Michael Slavens said.

Once students received permission to remove the flyers, they were all down within a matter of hours. If those behind the posters can be identified, any disciplinary action will ultimately be up to university administrators.

The Student Government Association Executive Committee released a statement on the fliers, which said in part:

It has been brought to the attention of several SGA Executive Board members that “Straight Pride” posters have been hung across campus, seemingly in response to LGBTQIA efforts to promote diversity and foster a culture of acceptance on campus. Though SGA respects the free speech of all YSU students, these postings were not authorized, contained vulgar language, and, unfortunately, miss the point of minority activism.

Military Worries About Easing Transgender Ban

Military Worries About Easing Transgender Ban

Military Transgender
This image from video shows Allyson Robinson, policy director for an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military personnel called Service members, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All, or SPARTA, during an… View Full CaptionAP

U.S. military leaders have expressed reservations about any move to lift the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, an issue since Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s suggestion that he is open to the idea, officials say.

Carter told troops in Afghanistan that he was open-minded when asked if the Defense Department was planning to remove one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service. But some defense officials have said they have broad concerns about the impact of such a change.

The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Much of the opposition centers on questions of where transgender troops would be housed, what berthing they would have on ships, which bathrooms they would use and whether their presence would affect the ability of small units to work well together.

Related: Transgender Navy Seal Becomes Posterchild For Military Transgender Recruiting

Chris Beck Kristin Seal Team 6 transgender gay

There also are questions about whether the military would conduct or pay for the medical treatment and costs associated with any gender transition, as well as which physical training standards the troops would be required to meet.

The military has dealt with similar questions as it has integrated the ranks by race, gender and sexual orientation. And in many cases comparable worries have been raised, including whether the changes would hinder small units that often have to work together in remote, confined locations for long periods of time.

Related: Army Traitor Receives Transgender Treatment While in Prison, Paid By Taxpayers

Bradley Chelsea Manning Army Transgender gay
Bradley Manning, now Chelsea!

Transgender people, who believe their gender identity is different from the one they were born with — and who sometimes take hormone treatments or have surgery to change — are banned from military service. But studies and surveys estimate 15,000 transgender people serve in the active duty military and the reserves, often in secret but in many cases with the knowledge of their unit commanders or peers.

Carter, who became Pentagon chief just five weeks ago, told troops in Afghanistan last month that the key question should be: “Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.”

What he didn’t know at the time was that one of the troops in attendance was a transgender individual who is serving with the full knowledge of the person’s commander.

People familiar with the event would not identify the transgender service member or say if that person met or had a photograph taken with the secretary, saying it could put the person’s job in jeopardy.

That transgender service member lives in barracks for that person’s chosen gender identity, not the one listed on the troop’s identification card, said Allyson Robinson, policy director for an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military personnel called Service members, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All, or SPARTA. Robinson said the person is “acknowledged as one of the top performers in the unit,” and is known to be a transgender individual by others in the unit.

The transgender issue has come to the fore as the military has struggled with how to deal with convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning’s request for hormone therapy and other treatment for her gender dysphoria while she’s in prison. Manning, arrested as Bradley Manning, is the first transgender military prisoner to request such treatment, and the Army recently approved the hormone therapy, under pressure from a lawsuit.

Convicted Military Traitor Granted Transgender Drugs By Army, Paid For By Taxpayers

Convicted Military Traitor Granted Transgender Drugs By Army, Paid For By Taxpayers

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Political correctness has yet again surfaced to bite the American taxpayer in the backside. According to recent reports, the government has approved taxpayer-funded hormone injections for American traitor Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning).

Manning was convicted in 2013 of sharing classified information with Wikileaks, which is a sort of journalistic organization aimed at governmental transparency. Being an intelligence analyst in the Army allowed Manning access to classified databases, which he later leaked for the world to see.

However, since the time of his incarceration, Manning has started down a road to alter his physical appearance in order to better represent that of his gender identity. According to Manning back in August of 2013 (via Breitbart):

“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

As one would imagine, not everyone is so keen on the idea that a traitor and current inmate feels justified to receive cosmetic procedures at virtually no cost to himself. Since he’s up for parole in 8 years, he can do it himself and foot the bill as well when he gets out. Unfortunately, the courts don’t have the same sentiment.

Manning actually sued the government last year in a temper tantrum like state, saying it was unfair that they denied him the opportunity to have the body he feels he’s entitled to. Rather than simply denying the absurd request, they’ve decided that the better route to take would be to oblige Manning.

Tranny Traitor Granted Right To Spend Taxpayer Dollars For RIDICULOUS Reason

As released in a memo acquired by USA Today, Col. Erica Nelson, the commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas, wrote:

“After carefully considering the recommendation that (hormone treatment) is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding (hormone treatment) to Inmate Manning’s treatment plan.”

Since when do prisoners guilty of a crime have more rights than they need (i.e. shelter, food,necessary medical care)? If you want to work out your own feelings, feel free to do so – just not at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Didn’t we used to hang traitors?  I guess now we turn them into women! This man has been granted the right to live, and now he wants to take advantage of the American taxpayer.

Alabama chief justice tells probate judges not to issue gay marriage licenses

Alabama chief justice tells probate judges not to issue gay marriage licenses

Associated Press

Gay Marriage Alabama_Cham640360020915.jpg
Feb. 8, 2015: Shanté Wolfe, left and Tori Sisson, right, sit near the Montgomery County Courthouse Sunday in Montgomery, Ala. Wolfe and Sisson camped out all night on Sunday to be the first couple to marry in Montgomery on Monday morning. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Alabama appeared set within hours to become the 37th state where gays can legally wed, prompting one couple to pitch a tent outside a courthouse even as the state’s chief justice made an 11th hour bid to keep the weddings on hold Monday.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter Sunday evening to probate judges ordering them to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses when the courts opened Monday morning. Moore wrote that the judges weren’t bound by a federal judge’s ruling Jan. 23 that the marriage ban was unconstitutional.

“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with (the Alabama Constitution),” Moore wrote.

Susan Watson, executive director The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, called the move by the conservative chief justice “grandstanding” and predicted licenses would be issued shortly.

“We will see marriage equality in Alabama tomorrow. I don’t think the probate judges in Alabama are going to defy a federal court judge’s order,” Watson said late Sunday.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade had ruled that the state marriage ban was unconstitutional and — in a later clarifying order — said that probate judges have a legal duty under the U.S. Constitution to issue the licenses.

The developments unfolded as at least one couple showed up early at the county courthouse in one major city, Montgomery, and more were expected at courthouses around the state in coming hours.

Tori Sisson and Shante Wolf pitched a blue and white tent outside the Montgomery County Courthouse and hugged as they waited in hopes of being the first couple to get a marriage license in Alabama.

“It’s about time,” Wolfe, 21, said of gay marriage being allowed in the Deep South state.

The chief justice, Moore, has been one of the state’s most outspoken critics of gay marriage. He called homosexuality an “evil” in a 2002 custody ruling and urged judges to reject issuing such licenses in recent days.

A few probate judges have said they would refuse to issue the licenses until they received greater clarity from the courts. Moore, as head of the court system, upped the ante Sunday night by sending the directive, although, it was unclear what enforcement provision he has.

Moore’s letter to the probate judges said Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley can take action against elected officials who fail to follow the law.

Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman for Bentley, said she did not know about Moore’s letter and did not have an immediate comment Sunday evening.

Couples plan to seek marriage licenses across the state with marriage equality groups providing ministers and judges to perform ceremonies in Huntsville and Birmingham.

Attorney General Luther Strange has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put aside Granade’s order since justices are expected to issue a ruling later this year on whether gay couples have a right to marry nationwide. The high court had not ruled on the state’s request within hours of the opening of courthouses Monday.

The ACLU has established a hotline for couples to report if they are refused a license. Watson said the ACLU will be at courthouses across the state, not just to be prepared for problems, but to hand out balloons and gifts to joyful couples.

“I think it will really pretty simple. Hopefully we will be able to hand out a lot of wedding favors,” Watson said.

More than 100 people attended a “Sanctity of Marriage” rally at the Alabama Capitol on Saturday. With the sign “One Man One Woman” behind them, speakers said they stood with the biblical definition of marriage and the 80 percent of voters who approved Alabama’s gay marriage ban in 2006.

A group of marriage rights supporters gathered across the street waving signs reading, “Y’all means all” and singing a version of “Going to the Chapel,” but changing the word chapel to courthouse.

Federal judge strikes down Alabama’s gay marriage ban

Federal judge strikes down Alabama’s gay marriage ban

Associated Press

gay lesbian wedding marriage legal legalize

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) A federal judge has struck down Alabama laws banning gay marriage.

U.S. District Callie V.S. Granade ruled Friday in favor of two Mobile women who sued to challenge Alabama’s refusal to recognize their marriage performed in California.

Plaintiffs Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand said that they had been a couple for more than a decade and had a child together with the help of a sperm donor. However, an Alabama court refused to let Searcy be recognized as the child’s adoptive parent because state law did not recognize the couple as spouses.

Granade said a state statute and 2006 amendment to the Alabama Constitution were both in violation of the equa-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Rights for Gay Couples Nationwide

Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Rights for Gay Couples Nationwide

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, positioning it to resolve one of the great civil rights questions in a generation before its current term ends in June.

The decision came just months after the justices ducked the issue, refusing in October to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. That decision, which was considered a major surprise, delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states withsame-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19.

Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision not to act, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry.

The cases the Supreme Court agreed to hear on Friday were brought by some 15 same-sex couples in four states. The plaintiffs said they have a fundamental right to marry and to be treated as opposite-sex couples are, adding that bans they challenged demeaned their dignity, imposed countless practical difficulties and inflicted particular harm on their children.

The pace of change on same-sex marriage, in both popular opinion and in the courts, has no parallel in the nation’s history.

Gay rights advocates hailed the court’s move on Friday as one of the final steps in a decades-long journey toward equal treatment, and they expressed confidence they would prevail.

“We are finally within sight of the day when same-sex couples across the country will be able to share equally in the joys, protections and responsibilities of marriage,” said Jon W. Davidson, the legal director of Lambda Legal.

Supporters of traditional marriage said the Supreme Court now has a chance to return the issue to voters and legislators.

“Lower court judges have robbed millions of people of their voice and vote on society’s most fundamental relationship — marriage,” said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy and lobbying group. “There is nothing in the Constitution that empowers the courts to silence the people and impose a nationwide redefinition of marriage.”

The Supreme Court’s lack of action in October and its last three major gay rights rulings suggest that the court will rule in favor of same-sex marriage. But the court also has a history of caution in this area.

It agreed once before to hear a constitutional challenge to a same-sex marriage ban, in 2012 in a case called Hollingsworth v. Perry that involved California’s Proposition 8. At the time, nine states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex couples to marry.

When the court’s ruling arrived in June 2013, the justices ducked, with a majority saying that the case was not properly before them, and none of them expressing a view on the ultimate question of whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriage.

But a second decision the same day, in United States v. Windsor, provided the movement for same-sex marriage with what turned out to be a powerful tailwind. The decision struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred federal benefits for same-sex couples married in states that allowed such unions.

The Windsor decision was based partly on federalism grounds, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion stressing that state decisions on how to treat marriages deserved respect. But lower courts focused on other parts of his opinion, ones that emphasized the dignity of gay relationships and the harm that families of gay couples suffered from bans on same-sex marriage. In a remarkable and largely unbroken line of more than 40 decisions, state and federal courts relied on the Windsor decision to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

The most important exception was a decision in November from a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said that voters and legislators, not judges, should decide the issue.

That decision created a split among the federal appeals courts, a criterion that the Supreme Court often looks to in deciding whether to hear a case. That criterion had been missing in October.

The Sixth Circuit’s decision upheld bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The Supreme Court agreed to hear petitions seeking review from plaintiffs challenging those bans in each state.

The court said it will hear two and a half hours of argument, probably in the last week of April. The first 90 minutes will be devoted to the question of whether the Constitution requires states “to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.”

The last hour will concern a question that will be moot if the answer to the first one is yes: whether states must “recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.”

The court consolidated the four petitions, not all of which had addressed both questions.

Two cases — Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, from Ohio, and Tanco v. Haslam, No. 14-562, from Tennessee — challenged state laws barring the recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

“Ohio does not contest the validity of their out-of-state marriages,” the plaintiffs seeking to overturn the ban wrote in their brief seeking Supreme Court review. “It simply refuses to recognize them.”

State officials in Ohio had urged the justices to hear the case. “The present status quo is unsustainable,” they said. “The country deserves a nationwide answer to the question — one way or the other.”

Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican, took a different approach from those of officials in the other states whose cases the Supreme Court agreed to decide. He did what litigants who have won in the lower court typically do: He urged the justices to decline to hear the case.

The Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder, No. 14-571, was brought by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two nurses. They sued to challenge the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In urging the Supreme Court to hear their case, they asked the justices to do away with “the significant legal burdens and detriments imposed by denying marriage to same-sex couples, as well as the dignity and emotional well-being of the couples and any children they may have.”

Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, joined the plaintiffs in urging the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Kentucky case, Bourke v. Beshear, No. 14-574, was brought by two sets of plaintiffs. The first group included four same-sex couples who had married in other states and who sought recognition of their unions. The second group, two couples, sought the right to marry in Kentucky.

In his response to the petition in the Supreme Court, Gov. Steven L. Beshear, a Democrat, said he had a duty to enforce the state’s laws. But he agreed that the Supreme Court should settle the matter and “resolve the issues creating the legal chaos that has resulted since Windsor.”

Florida becomes 36th state to legalize gay marriage

Florida becomes 36th state to legalize gay marriage

Supporters of same-sex marriage erupted into cheers and tearful hugs after a judge ruled that same-sex marriages could begin in Miami-Dade County on Monday.

By Tribune wire reports 

Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage ended statewide at the stroke of midnight Monday, and court clerks in some Florida counties wasted no time, issuing marriage licenses and performing weddings for same-sex couples overnight.

But they were beaten to the punch by a Miami judge who found no need to wait until the statewide ban expired. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel presided over Florida’s first legally recognized same-sex marriages Monday afternoon.

gay lesbian wedding marriage legal legalize

Still, most counties held off on official ceremonies until after midnight early Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s ruling that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional took effect in all 67 counties. Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, is still pursuing state and federal appeals seeking to uphold the ban voters approved in 2008, but her effort to block these weddings until the courts finally rule was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.

And now that same-sex marriage is a reality in Florida, Bondi’s spokeswoman told The Associated Press “the judge has ruled, and we wish these couples the best.”

The addition of Florida’s 19.9 million people means 70 percent of Americans now live in the 36 states where gay marriage is legal.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’re just so excited and so happy,” said Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb moments after she married Patti Daugherty, her partner of 22 years, at the Osceola County Courthouse in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando. Dressed in matching white pants and white embroidered shirts, the couple stood under a canopy of lace and ribbons as County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez officiated and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., served as a witness. A countdown clock was placed in the front of the room, and supporters counted down to midnight 10 seconds before the clock struck 12.

“I’m hyped up at the moment,” said Grieb, whose marriage was the first in Osceola County and was followed by 27 others in the early morning hours.

Outside the courthouse, about 20 protesters held signs reading “God says male and female should be married” and “Sodom and Gomorrah,” but same-sex marriage supporters ignored them.

In Key West, at the southern tip of Florida, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, exchanged nuptials early Tuesday dressed in matching black tuxedos with blue vests, shortly after getting the first marriage license issued to a same-sex couple in the Florida Keys. Several hundred people attended the wedding staged on the steps of the Monroe County Courthouse.

During vows, Huntsman and Jones exchanged handmade silver rings, embraced and kissed. Afterward, Jones removed a large silver-toned bracelet that completely encircled his left wrist. He called it “my shackle of inequality.”

“I’m elated. Overjoyed that I am finally legally recognized with the man I have loved for 12 years now,” said Jones, whose marriage was followed by nine others in Monroe County overnight.

In Palm Beach County, celebrity financial adviser Suze Orman showed up at a mass wedding of 100 couples at a Delray Beach courthouse to support two friends getting married. Orman, who married her wife, Kathy Travis, a decade ago in South Africa, said she was happy same-sex couples were finally being recognized legally in Florida, where she lives part of the time.

“This is an investment in validity,” Orman said.

Broward Clerk Howard Forman also planned to officiate a mass wedding overnight at his county courthouse, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer planned to do the same at city hall later in the morning. Churches throughout the state were holding mass weddings for same-sex couples on Tuesday.
On Monday, gay and lesbian couples in Miami got a head-start when Zabel said she saw no reason why same-sex couples couldn’t immediately get their marriage licenses.

Then, she married two couples, Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto and Todd and Jeff Delmay, in her chambers, packed with supporters and news media for the event.

“Finally, Florida recognizes us as a couple,” Pareto said. “It’s just — I don’t know, sweet justice.”

But while the news was largely met with cheers or even shrugs from Florida’s more liberal enclaves, signs of opposition were evident farther north, where more conservative Floridians live.

In Jacksonville, Duval County Court Clerk Ronnie Fussell shut down the courthouse chapel, saying no marriage ceremonies — gay or straight — would be allowed there. At least two other counties in northeast Florida did the same.

“The day is going to come very soon where America is going to wake up and say, ‘Whoa! Wait a second! I wanted two guys to live together. I didn’t want the fundamental transformation of society,'” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy council. He led the petition drive to put the gay marriage ban on the ballot back in 2008.

Republican Jeb Bush, who opposed gay marriage while serving as Florida’s governor and who now may seek the presidency, sought a middle ground Monday.

In a statement, he urged people to “show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

Firefighters Forced To Participate In Gay Parade, Lawsuit Tossed Out Of Court

Firefighters Forced To Participate In Gay Parade, Lawsuit Tossed Out Of Court

A firefighter carries a hose while battling the King Fire near Fresh Pond, California September 16, 2014. REUTERS/Noah Berger

The Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously threw out a lawsuit by two firefighters claiming that their religious rights were violated as a result of being forced to participate in a gay pride parade, LGBT Weekly reports.

Firefighters Theodore Fabrizio and Stephen Deninno argued before the Rhode Island Supreme Court that the local fire department in Providence, R.I., should have respected their religious freedom and allowed them to sit out the gay pride event.

The case dates back all the way to 2001, when Fabrizio and Deninno were told by the fire department to take part in a gay pride parade by driving a truck. Since Fabrizio and Deninno are Roman Catholic, they asked for a reassignment, as homosexuality is against their religious beliefs. They were immediately refused. And as a result of being forced to participate in the parade, the two firefighters stated that they were subjected to sexual harassment from both event-goers and fellow co-workers.

After consultation, a lawsuit was filed in 2004 against the city’s mayor Buddy Cianci and fire chief James Rattigan. The entire case has taken 10 years to come to a close, but the weary firefighters haven’t come out with a victory.

“The respondents’ appearance in the parade, solely as members of the Providence Fire Department, did not constitute a form of expression on their part. Rather, it was simply the accomplishing of a task assigned to an engine company of the Providence Fire Department,” Justice William Robinson wrote, delivering a unanimous ruling on behalf of all five members of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Buddy Cianci was the first mayor of the city to serve as marshal for the local gay pride parade and has been heavily involved in gay rights activism in Rhode Island, having created the Office of Gay Liaison.

“Our policy was to send a fire truck to any parade that made the request, if one was available and the truck’s participation did not compromise public safety,”said Cianci. “Why should the gay-pride parade be any different than the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Purim Parade, or any parade in Providence? It shouldn’t, and it wasn’t.”

Bill would let Michigan doctors, EMTs refuse to treat gay patients

Bill would let Michigan doctors, EMTs refuse to treat gay patients

hospital

LANSING, Mich. – Can doctors and emergency medical technicians legally refuse to give life saving assistance to a gay person, because of their religious beliefs? That question is being debated in the Michigan legislature.

The Republican-led House has approved the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which 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.”

But Rep. Jeff Irwin, an Ann Arbor Democrat, warned it would “open the door to discrimination and the types of behavior that otherwise violates the laws of the state of Michigan.”

He said while legislators may think the bill is about safeguarding a baker from having to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, it’s “much broader.” Democrats warned that government workers with sincere religious beliefs could be allowed to show bias against someone from another faith, mentioning that pharmacists could deny birth control to women.

If state senators want to act on the bill, they’ll have to do it quick — the legislative session ends next week, and the bill will die if it’s not voted on, CBS Detroit reported.

At least 19 states have approved laws mirroring the federal law, which prohibits the government from imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion for anything other than a compelling government interest pursued in the least restrictive way, according to the Associated Press.