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Two Stains on Our Nation as Anti-LGBT Bills Pass in Michigan and North Carolina

Separation of church and H8. Photo: James Willamor/Flickr
Separation of church and H8. Photo: James Willamor/Flickr
James Esseks,
Director, LGBTQ & HIV Project,
ACLU
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June 11, 2015

As the country awaits a decision from the Supreme Court on marriage equality, anti-LGBT forces who want to use religion to allow discrimination have pushed bills through in Michigan and North Carolina. Both North Carolina’s marriage refusal bill SB 2 and Michigan’s adoption refusal House Bills 4188, 4189 and 4190 have gotten final approval and are about to be law.

The North Carolina bill would allow magistrates to refuse to perform marriages and was clearly prompted by the marriages of same-sex couples. There was hope when Gov. Pat McCrory did the right thing and vetoed the legislation. But the Speaker of North Carolina’s House called for a vote – when many legislators who would have voted ‘no’ were out of the room, no less – and overrode the governor’s veto.

The intent to harm gay and lesbian couples and their families is clear.

In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder today enshrined discrimination against LGBT people that will limit the pool of loving families available to the state’s most vulnerable children. Michigan’s adoption refusal law now authorizes state-paid child placement agencies to turn away qualified prospective foster or adoptive parents based solely on the religious beliefs of the agencies, regardless of their ability to care for a child. .Denying loving homes to children who so desperately need them is downright cruel and should be criminal – which is why legislatures in Texas, Alabama, and Florida rejected similar measures earlier this year.

Perhaps most shockingly, Gov. Snyder has publicly stated that he would not sign a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in his state because it is discriminatory — yet he failed to recognize the discriminatory intent behind HB 4188, 4189 and 4190 and its potentially devastating consequences for children.

States across the nation from Indiana to Arizona to Texas and beyond have defeated anti-LGBT bills this year that would have granted licenses to discriminate, indicating a promising turning point in our nation’s history. These two new laws are out of step with the direction in which our country is moving and only aim to harm. With the Supreme Court expected to rule on marriage for same-sex couples this month, one can’t help but wonder if these actions are simply last ditch efforts to discriminate based on fear and ignorance. What else could they be given that these laws help no one and stand to hurt many?