A misguided, irresponsible attempt to legalize discrimination

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Andrew Duffelmeyer takes on Iowa Republicans’ “just plain wrong attempt to legalize discrimination against our LGBTQ friends” in the name of religious liberty. -promoted by desmoinesdem The Senate Local Government Committee is set to take up a bill aimed at legalizing discrimination against our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Such an effort is certainly reprehensible and ought to be soundly defeated. But Senate Study Bill 3171 doesn’t do just that. The architects of this so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” have created language so vague and broad that it would go far beyond allowing wedding venues, bakeries, or floral shops to refuse service to same-sex couples – the apparent “problem” this bill aims to address, based on subcommittee testimony. The bill would allow people to challenge any law or action of any state or local government on the basis that it infringes on their religious beliefs. The government would then have to satisfy a difficult legal standard to justify that infringement. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad. The government shouldn’t infringe on an individual’s religious beliefs without a good reason to do so, right? But hold on. The bill doesn’t apply just to individuals. It refers to the religious beliefs of a “person” without defining that term, meaning it could include the “religious beliefs” of any legal entity. Furthermore, the religion at issue doesn’t have to be a mainstream religion or even a mainstream belief within that religion. The bill covers any action motivated by any religious belief, regardless of whether it is “compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” So for those who are comfortable with mainstream Christian beliefs trumping some laws, that is not what this bill would do. Any purported religious belief, regardless of how widely accepted it is, could form the basis for an

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