Iowa Senate Passes Religious Freedom Restoration

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Senate has passed a bill modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, says court rulings have infringed on the free exercise of religion and the bill outlines how state courts are to decide cases in the future.

Thirty-one Republicans in the state senate voted for it, while the 16 Senate Democrats opposed it. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the bill would open the door to all sorts of discrimination.

Senator Jeff Taylor, a Republican from Sioux Center, says the bill makes it clear the Constitution is the law of the land.

Senator Janice Weiner, a Democrat from Iowa City, says the bill lets people cite their religious beliefs as they pick and choose which laws to follow.

Weiner said it would allow pharmacists to cite their religious beliefs and refuse to dispense birth control or let property owners refuse to rent to same-sex couples. Senator Liz Bennett, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the bill slams the door in her face.

Schultz, a Republican who’s served in the Iowa legislature since 2009, says Democrats are being overly dramatic about the bill.

An identical version of the bill is eligible for debate in the Republican-led Iowa House.

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