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Gov. Snyder says he would veto religious freedom bill

Posted at 11:36 AM, Apr 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-02 22:24:39-04

LANSING, Mich. -- Amid the continued controversy over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Gov. Rick Snyder spoke out to the Detroit Free Press Thursday boldly promising he'd veto similar legislation if it came across his desk.

"I would veto RFRA legislation in Michigan if it is a standalone piece of legislation," Snyder told the Free Press.

He also told the Free Press that an RFRA bill should not be passed without also expanding the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibiting hiring and housing discrimination against members of the LGBT community.

“He supports religious freedom, but strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and this about supporting Constitutional protections and striking a balance," Dave Murray, deputy press secretary for Gov. Snyder, told FOX 17 on Thursday by phone.

In his  State of the State address this past January, Snyder did call for continued discussions to expand the state's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

"I appreciate the prior discussions that were had but let’s keep up that dialogue and let’s show we can deal with issues of discrimination in our state," Snyder said in January.

The governor's bold stance could also prove to be a smart economic move for the 'tough nerd' after several businesses and corporations have threatened to stop doing business altogether in the Hoosier State following the fallout from RFRA.

“The governor believes Michigan is on the right track economically and he does not want to do anything to alter the remarkable track we’re on," Murray said. "The governor believes discrimination is wrong, he’s been very open about that and very consistent about that.”

In addition to a broad RFRA bill in the state legislature, Michigan lawmakers are also mulling a bill that's been voted through the Senate that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to deny adoptions to same-sex couples because it violates their religious beliefs.

Murray would not directly address whether the governor held a similar stance on that bill, only saying the governor opposes all forms of discrimination.

A third bill dealing with religious freedoms for medical professionals and hospitals has yet to make it out of a committee for a vote.

Snyder's statements come on the same day that Indiana lawmakers announced plans to overhaul their religious freedom legislation.

According to CNN, the changes prohibit businesses from using the RFRA as a defense for refusing "to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing" to any customers based on "race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service."

CNN reports that the proposed fixes don't satisfy the law's critics, who want sexual orientation added to a list of categories protected by the state's anti-discrimination law.

"Today, the harm has been lessened, but we have not reached the day when LGBT Hoosiers can be assured that they can live their lives with freedom from discrimination," Freedom Indiana head Katie Blair said.