Michigan‘s House of Representatives has passed a hate speech bill, known as HB 4474, which criminalizes causing someone to feel threatened by words, including the misusing of their pronouns, with the possibility of a hefty fine or even jail time.
The bill introduces hate crime penalties for causing someone to ‘feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened,’ with ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity or expression’ included as protected classes.
Offenders could face up to five years in prison for such a felony offense or a $10,000 fine.
It is part of a continues effort by Democrats in the state to advance a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda in their first months in power.
The proposed legislation aims to replace the existing Ethnic Intimidation Act and extends protection against intimidation.
The Michigan House has approved a hate speech bill, HB 4474, that would criminalize causing someone to ‘feel’ threatened by words. Pictured, the Michigan State Capitol Building
The bill aims to replace the current Ethnic Intimidation Act and includes ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity or expression’ as protected classes
Critics argue that the bill poses a threat to First Amendment rights and lacks clarity in defining ‘harassment’, leaving it open to subjective interpretation.
The bill reads as follows: ‘Intimidate’ means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable individual to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened.’
If passed, penalties would be based on how the supposed victim and court ‘feel’ about a particular matter.
What constitutes as being deemed ‘intimidation and harassment’ would be up to the interpretation of the listener and a local prosecutor.
Critics argue that the legislation could infringe on free speech rights and undermine the principles of due process.
Some of the key contents of the bill are seen above. Offenders could face up to five years in prison for the felony offense – some have argued the legislation could infringes on free speech
Michigan Democrats have made it a priority to further protect LGBTQ+ people since they took control of all levels of state government this year.
In March, lawmakers codified LGBTQ+ protections into the state’s civil rights law, permanently outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state.
This new hate speech bill passed in the Democrat-controlled House 59-50 and will now move to the Michigan State Senate (also Democrat controlled) for further consideration.
If approved, it would expected to be signed into law by the Democratic state Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Wagner, an expert in constitutional law and former federal judge warns that the legislation could be used to silence conservative viewpoints and would oppose the due process required by the Constitution.
If approved by the Michigan State Senate it would expected to be signed into law by the Democratic State Governor Gretchen Whitmer
‘Make no mistake about it. Those advocating for this legislation will wield these policies as a weapon capable of destroying conservative expression or viewpoints grounded in the sacred,’ Wagner told The Daily Wire.
‘One merely needs to look at the scores of cases brought against schools, churches, businesses, and individuals around our country. Proponents use these laws to silence and financially cripple those who dare to adhere to a different viewpoint and oppose their agenda.’
Meanwhile, Republican Representative Angela Rigas shared her concerns about the bill targeting conservatives who speak against radical gender ideology.
‘The state of Michigan is now explicitly allowing the gender delusion issue to be used as a ‘protected class.’ This opens up numerous issues when it comes to the courts and the continued weaponization of the system against conservatives,’ Rigas said.
‘We saw similar concerns when they wanted to pass blocks on ‘conversion’ therapy. It seems Dems want to be in the business of telling people how to think. We are determined to keep choice and opinion a free choice despite those efforts.’
Rigas suggested that conservatives would have to rely on the courts to challenge the legislation such is the lack of Republican influence in Michigan’s branches of power.
‘While my colleagues are introducing great bills to counter the infringements to our freedoms, there is no current way to fix these issues without higher courts becoming involved,’ she explained.
Earlier this week Michigan lawmakers gave final approval to legislation banning so-called conversion therapy for minors.
The legislation would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging youths in the scientifically discredited practice of trying to convert people who are LGBTQ+ to heterosexuality and traditional gender expectations.
The Michigan Senate approved the ban on a 21-15 vote – with one Republican siding with Democrats – late Tuesday after the state House previously approved the legislation.
It now awaits final approval by Gov. Whitmer, who has previously called the therapy a ‘dangerous practice.’