Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Religious Exemption Dropped from MI Anti-Bullying Law

Earlier this month the Michigan State Senate passed "Matt's Safe School Law", a piece of anti-bullying legislation named after Matt Epling, an East Lansing teen who committed suicide after being subjected to relentless homophobic bullying. The law, designed to prohibit harassment and bullying at school, was met with fierce opposition by anti-gay activists such as the Michigan AFA's Gary Glenn, who called it a "Trojan Horse" for "homosexual activists." Republican Senators briefly added an exemption for bullying based on "religious or moral convictions", igniting a firestorm of controversy and earning them a stinging rebuke from Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer. In response, Senator Rick Jones has agreed to drop the religious exemption and leave the bill as it was originally intended.

1 comment:

  1. This post is in error on multiple points, disturbingly so for a blog by students who aspire to some day practice law.

    The American Family Association of Michigan did not and does not oppose the anti-bullying bill recently passed by the Michigan Senate or the version even more recently passed by the Michigan House, and -- false media reports to the contrary -- we did not refer to either bill as a "Trojan Horse."

    Your characterization of the legal effects of the so-called "religious and moral" language of the Senate bill is also false, as was the ridiculous charge by homosexual activists and their Democratic allies that the bill would have allowed bullying motivated by "religious and moral conviction."

    Even honest liberals admit that such a characterization is false.

    Michigan Messenger, a left-of-center state capital newsletter in Lansing, interviewed Professor Douglas Laycock, a First Amendment expert from the University of Virginia, and Jay Kaplan of ACLU-Michigan'S Gay and Lesbian Project regarding SB 137's reiteration of the First Amendment right to make non-threatening, non-bullying "statements" of "religious and moral conviction."

    Laycock: "It is NOT reasonably interpreted to mean that one student can bully another as long as the bullier has a sincere religious motivation."

    Kaplan: "It does NOT provide a legal defense to the act of bullying,"

    In any case, the state House has now passed a different version of the bill which does not include the "religious and moral" language, but which simply protects all students from all bullying for all reasons because of their individual worth as human beings, without segregating students into special "protected class" categories and then protecting them based on their group rights.

    Both the American Family Association of Michigan and Bully Police USA believe that anti-bullying bills should not include such segregation language, and 80 percent of the state anti-bullying laws in the nation do not.

    To repeat, AFA-Michigan has no objection to these anti-bullying bills, and the irony is that Michigan could have had an anti-bullying law years ago had homosexual activists and their political allies not refused to support past bills unless they included the Trojan Horse element of segregating students into special categories such as so-called "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

    Michigan will soon have a new anti-bullying law, and it will be a law that except for the opposition of Democrats who until last year controlled the House, could have been on the books for years with no objection from AFA-Michigan.

    Gary Glenn, President
    American Family Association of Michigan