Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (Wiki)
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed into law a religious refusal bill that critics say will permit discrimination against LGBTQs.
The Senate Bill 215 will also allow for discrimination against people of faith and women, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Republican Gianforte, who has been governor of Montana since 4 January 2021, confirmed the signing in a tweet last week, saying: "To protect Montanans’ right to freely exercise their religion, I was proud to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today."
To protect Montanans’ right to freely exercise their religion, I was proud to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today.
Thank you to Sen. Carl Glimm (R-Kila) for your work on this legislation. pic.twitter.com/3sRFEjKUpl— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) April 22, 2021
"Religious liberty and equality are not mutually exclusive"
Responding to the news, Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President said: "The slate of anti-LGBTQ bills that are rippling through the Montana state legislature will generate serious consequences for all Montanans. SB 215 will have a significant impact on vulnerable communities in Montana - including people of faith, women, and LGBTQ people. It will also jeopardize Montana businesses that voted for Governor Gianforte with the hopes of getting the state’s economy back on track.
"Let me be clear: religious liberty and equality are not mutually exclusive, and Montanas will not stand by as Governor Gianforte and fearful legislators seek to actively discriminate against the LGBTQ population."
The bill is similar to one signed into Indiana law in 2015 by then-Governor Mike Pence, which HRC argue has lost the state $60m in lost revenue.
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