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Michigan House passes anti-free speech bill: Wrong pronouns could cost you $10,000 or jail time

Michigan House passes anti-free speech bill: Wrong pronouns could cost you ,000 or jail time

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a controversial bill, HB 4474, that makes it a crime to use gender pronouns in a way that another citizen disagrees with.

Under the terms of the new bill, people found guilty of this offense could face a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.

The bill defines gender misrepresentation as an act of “intimidation,” defined as “a deliberate course of conduct involving repeated or continued harassment of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, fearful or threatened, and that actually makes the victim feel terrified, frightened or threatened.”

The legislation explicitly designates “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” as protected classes. The bill clarifies that “‘Gender identity or expression’ means having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity or expression, whether or not associated with the sex assigned to a person at birth.”

In another move of support for LGBTQ+ rights, Michigan lawmakers have also passed legislation banning “conversion therapy” for minors. This new law would prevent mental health professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of young people who identify as LGBTQ+. The move aligns with the broader pro-LGBTQ+ agenda Democrats are pushing in the state.

However, the bill has drawn criticism for possibly infringing on First Amendment rights, compelling speech, and banning the expression of traditional or scientific perspectives on sex and gender. Critics also claim that Michigan’s law would also violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

It’s unclear whether Michigan’s pronoun law would survive scrutiny by the Supreme Court, which is dominated by a conservative supermajority of justices that has recently issued landmark rulings that weigh in on the nation’s “culture wars.”

On Friday, the Supreme Court in a 6-3 opinion along ideological lines upheld a web designer’s right not to create websites in a way that violates his freedom of conscience. This SCOTUS ruling resulted in the overturning of affirmative action policies in college admissions and the strengthening of religious freedom by ruling on behalf of a Christian postal worker who ask that they not be forced to work on Sunday.

Therefore, Michigan’s pronoun law is at risk of being struck down by the US Supreme Court on First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment grounds.

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