Proposed Ballot Initiative Could Allow North Dakotans To Refuse To Follow Law On Religious Grounds

April 21, 2011 3:06 pm

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Proposed Amendment Could Enshrine Religiously Based Discrimination In State Constitution And Threaten Health, Safety And Welfare In State

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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Secretary of State received a petition today supporting a state constitutional amendment that could allow anyone – including employers, landlords and medical providers – to refuse to follow any law based on their religious views. Supporters of the so-called “Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment” claim to have gathered enough signatures to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the North Dakota ballot in the next general election.

If passed, the amendment could allow people to refuse to comply with any law if they claim a religious exemption.

The following can be attributed to Robert Doody, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Dakotas:

“North Dakotans have a proud history of respecting their neighbors’ right to live their lives according to what they believe, even if they do not share those beliefs. But this proposed amendment could lead people to refuse to follow virtually any law. It could allow people to argue that they have a right to abuse their children, refuse to hire people of different religious faiths or deny emergency health care.”

The following can be attributed to Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief:

“While all North Dakotans should be free to practice their faith, the proposed amendment goes too far. There are better ways to protect religious freedom without legalizing discrimination and undoing many long-standing laws that protect the public and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.”

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