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State House approves religious belief bill

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Legislators in the Michigan State Capitol want to do away with the Earned Income Tax Credit.

A bill that is supposed to protect people exercising their sincerely held religious beliefs from government interference cleared the state House today.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Jase Bolger, was brought up right after Bolger declared dead the effort to add LGBT protections to Michigan's civil rights law.

State Representative Jeff Irwin, who along with other Democrats oppose the bill, said the bill would make it easier to discriminate against LGBT people. They said that's especially true now that adding civil rights protections for LGBT people is no longer an option for this legislative session.

"There are some folks out there who feel they need a legal protection for their discrimination against members of the LGBT community, and that's what this is really, fundamentally all about," Irwin said.

Bolger said the bill reflects that the nation's founders cared a lot about religion.

"They knew religion helps give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive," Bolger said. "They knew there needs to be a space of freedom between government and people of faith that, otherwise, government might usurp."

Governor Rick Snyder has not said whether he would sign the bill.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.