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Michigan Republicans Allow Bullying If ‘Religiously or Morally Motivated’ (Video)

Michigan Republicans Allow Bullying If ‘Religiously or Morally Motivated’ (Video)

In Michigan, the State’s Republican-controlled Senate has passed an anti-bullying law named after a gay victim.

Good thing you might think. Except it’s not.

The Republicans put in a clause, introduced in secret, which is a cop out for anyone who can provide a religious or moral reason for their action.

Apparently to not grant this get-out clause is to act, as Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, puts it, as “a Trojan horse for the homosexual agenda.”

The Michigan bills are known as ‘Matt’s Safe School Law’ and are named for Matt Epling, an East Lansing gay teenager who committed suicide after being bullied.

Michigan Republicans only agreed to consider an anti-bullying measure — for one of the only three US states without them — that did not require school districts to report bullying incidents, did not include any provisions for enforcement or teacher training, and did not hold administrators accountable if they fail to act. They wanted no mention of any groups at high risk of bullying, in particular gay students.

Watch the reaction from Matt’s dad, who has supported anti-bullying efforts for years and runs a website in Matt’s memory:

“Rather than providing a blueprint for schools to handle the situation,” he says, “they have given students an easy out to assault, harass, belittle and harm fellow students with no recourse by the schools. Religion should never be used as a weapon and in no circumstance should a state entity ‘sanction’ violence in the name of religion.”

“‘For years the line has been ‘no protected classes,’ and the first thing they throw in — very secretly — was a very protected class, and limited them from repercussions of their own actions. This line has no purpose within this piece of legislation except to incite ‘religious bigotry’ within our schools.”

Democrats voted against a bill they had long championed because of the religious exception inserted at the last moment. Watch the reaction from Minority Leader in the Senate Gretchen Whitmer:

“You may be able to pat yourselves on the back today and say that you did something, but in actuality you are explicitly outlining how to get away with bullying,” she says. “As passed today, bullying kids is okay if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it.”

As Amy Sullivan, who is from Michigan, explains for Time, it is her local social conservatives that think they’re the ones being bullied, that efforts to protect gay kids attack their religious liberty:

“It’s also a highly selective conception of religious liberty,” she says. “The same religious conservatives who applaud the religious exemption in Michigan’s anti-bullying bill would be appalled if it protected a Muslim student in Dearborn who defended bullying a Christian classmate by saying he considered her an infidel.”
Given the real attacks on Christians in Pakistan and of other religious minorities elsewhere in the world, it takes what Sullivan calls a “serious persecution complex” to think up this clause to allow ridicule of gay students on religious grounds.

Having passed the Senate, the so-called ‘anti-bullying’ bill goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass with the religious exception clause included.

Related stories:

First GOP in ‘It Gets Better’ Video

Quebec Launches Anti-Bullying Campaign in Wake of Teen Gay Suicide

“Christian” Blames Victim And Media For Gay Teen Suicide

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Photo by Kelley Mari

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472 comments

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3:42AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

There is no redeeming value to "religious" bullying. Just like the other forms of ostracism, it seeks to destroy the one perceived as the "other". I was bullied as a child. I never tried to commit suicide, rather than cave in and die, I taught myself to fight back (rather brutally). Later on, this even made me an excellent soldier, but I never healed either. I became a loner because, I became unable to make friends, fall in love, or hold on to a job. I am in my 50s and I still avoid others unless I can limit the interaction through the shield of the internet.

8:21AM PST on Dec 24, 2011

In the Third Reich, the religion was National Socialism and the victims of bullying were the Jews and others who didn't conform to the Nazis' idea of human being.

10:11PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or forbidding the free exercise thereof." But the State of Michigan can? Oh, wait. If some psychoceramic's "faith" commands him to abuse unbelievers, that's protected too--if it's the RIGHT faith.

If there were prizes for hypocrisy, the Far Wrong would win hands down.

6:36AM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Robyn, you are wrong, It does keep on giving and giving and giving. It keeps on giving and giving and giving to BIGOTRY AND DISCRIMINATION and taking away peoples individual rights! I use to be a member of a religion, until they started very aggressivly attacking people that were different from them or even had different befiefs than they have. I still believe in God, but I DO NOT need a church and its associated bigotry and discrimination to believe in and worship God. That is one thing that organized religion DOES NOT want you to know, you DO NOT need them to worship God, you just need them to give money to so they can discriminate and try to take away the rights of others because those people do not believe the same thing that the religion or church believes. Sad, but true. We need a very difinitive line drawn separating church and state!!!

10:07PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

Religion, the gift that keeps right on giving...NOT.

1:20AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

Youth Voice Initiative is starting a new project, for those who want to anonymously submit stories of their abuse so we can draft something to pass as a law to help protect the LGBT community from this type of attack.

12:16PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

What further proof of republiCON lies, deception, distortions and obfuscation do we need to see that we need to vote out all republiCONS in the next election? The only good republiCON will be in the unemployment line after the next election. How is this so hard to see?

2:13PM PST on Nov 16, 2011

They created a useless law. Don't they have anything better to do?

2:07PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

sick sick sick

11:22PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

What about hate crimes? Are the ones that commit hate crimes excused if they use religion?
Or if it's what they consider moral? Could I beat up someone who has green hair because it's against my beliefs, and get off scot free? Heck, I might as well commit murder. I saw a man wearing panty hose, and that's against my beliefs. (I don't really care about hair color, or about men wearing panty-hose, just using these as examples) I think I'll beat up a republican, because they are against my moral and religious beliefs.

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