As in many states, Michigan legislators are mulling their own, augmented version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Maybe they didn’t notice the massive backlash that a similar RFRA caused Indiana or the loads of negative publicity it generated for Governor Mike “What Was I Thinking?” Pence. Or maybe they’re truly concerned about the religious rights of pizza-makers who might be asked to make pies for carb-heavy same-sex marriage receptions.
But more likely than not, the right-wing politicians behind the bill have proposed it (a) to fire up the rapidly shrinking conservative base, and (b) because they feel like their days of freewheeling homophobia are coming to an end. Whether the bill represents a last, desperate, guns-blazing attack on LGBT rights or a final fling, I can’t say.
Michigan governor Rick Snyder has indicated that he’ll consider the bill. But, chastened by the example of his colleague being flayed on national television, he’s also said that the only way it’ll earn his signature is if legislators also expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Specifically, Snyder wants to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s list of protected classes.
Yesterday, while much of the LGBT community’s attention was focused on Washington, D.C., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a brief but strongly worded statement about its support for that very piece of anti-discrimination legislation. It reads as follows:
“FCA US LLC has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. We are committed to diversity and inclusion, and as such, oppose any law that can result in discrimination. Accordingly, FCA US supports efforts to update Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our commitment and policy extends to our employees and business partners.”
It’s interesting that, because of Snyder’s laudably moderate stance, Michigan’s RFRA hasn’t generated much nationwide attention. As such, there’s been no real cause for companies to make strong statements about it. And yet, here’s FCA getting well ahead of things, avowing its support for LGBT equality.
Not that we’d expect anything less — after all, FCA has earned perfect scores on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index — but it’s nice to see that corporations now want to distance themselves from even the faintest hint of homophobia.