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Twice, I have written about a Republican-backed proposal in Wisconsin to enact an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that would allow for people to discriminate against others on religious grounds. (You can view both of my blog posts about this here and here)

The part of the Wisconsin Constitution which deals with freedom of religion is Article I, Section 18, and here's how it currently reads:

The right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any person be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, without consent; nor shall any control of, or interference with, the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship; nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of religious societies or religious or theological seminaries.
The proposed religious discrimination amendment would add this language to Article I, Section 18 of the Wisconsin Constitution:
The right of conscience, which includes the right to engage in activity or refrain from activity based on a sincerely held religious belief, shall not be burdened unless the state provides it has a compelling interest in infringing upon the specific action or refusal to act, and the burden is the least-restrictive alternative to the state’s action. A burden to the right of conscience includes indirect burdens, such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
While Republicans are referring to this as a "religious freedom" amendment (in fact, it's officially titled as such), it's actually a religious discrimination amendment that is even worse than Arizona's religious discrimination measure SB1062 for two reasons: it's much broader in scope and it's a proposed amendment to Wisconsin's state constitution. Wisconsin's religious discrimination amendment, if ratified, would, among other things, allow business owners to refuse service to minorities, LGBT people, or any other group of people, allow pharmacists and pharmacies to refuse to fill contraception prescriptions, and allow public servants to refuse to preside over weddings. That's just a short list of the many ways that Wisconsinites could discriminate against their fellow Wisconsinites on religious grounds if the religious discrimination amendment were to be ratified.

In Wisconsin, for a state constitutional amendment to be ratified, both houses of two consecutive state legislatures would have to vote for it (if I'm not mistaken, only a simple majority is required), then a majority of Wisconsin voters would have to vote for it in a referendum.

As a lifelong Illinoisan who has written about Wisconsin politics since 2011, this is one of the most atrocious proposals that I've seen Wisconsin Republicans try to enact. If this religious discrimination amendment makes it to the ballot in Wisconsin, I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote against it. If Arizona Republican Jan Brewer could veto similar legislation that isn't as broad in scope as the proposed religious discrimination amendment in Wisconsin, Wisconsinites could certainly vote against a religious discrimination amendment.

Originally posted to Aaron Camp on DailyKos on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 04:54 PM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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