Republicans in states including Arkansas and Montana are pushing to give unvaccinated people the same civil rights protections as those based on race, gender and religion – as the US vaccination rate stalls at 68%
- Arkansas and Montana Governors Asa Hutchinson and Greg Gianforte signed legislation that bans discrimination on the basis of vaccination status
- Eight GOP states have also already banned so-called vaccine passports
- Republicans are pushing forward with laws that give unvaccinated Americans the same protections awarded on the basis of gender, religion and race
- The latest bills come as the national vaccine effort has slowed substantially
Republican lawmakers across the U.S. are pushing for the passage of laws that would give unvaccinated Americans the same anti-discrimination protections related to race, gender and religion.
The slew of bills would stop private businesses and government entities from requiring coronavirus vaccines or potentially implementing so-called ‘vaccine passport’ initiatives.
However, the laws and proposed legislation also could curb the growing political identity marker that has come to surround COVID-19 vaccination status.
Most states, according to a list accumulated by Husch Blackwell, have proposed legislation or already-signed laws protecting people from discrimination based on if they have received the coroanvirus vaccine.
The biggest difference between vaccination status and other identity markers, Husch Blackwell managing partner Lowell Pearson told Axios, is that the latter are ‘inherent to you.’
Arkansas and Montana Governors Asa Hutchinson (left) and Greg Gianforte (right) signed into law legislation that bans private and public entities in their respective states from discriminating on the basis of vaccination status against COVID-19
Eight GOP states have already signed legislation banning vaccine passports to show proof of inoculation for any purchase of ‘services, goods, facilities’ as well as ‘educational and employment opportunities and health care access
‘When we think about the normal discrimination statutes,’ Pearson said, ‘we have protected classes based on something that is sort of inherent to you, with religion maybe being the one that is a choice.’
‘But vaccination status you certainly can control,’ he added.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma and South Dakota, all states with Republican governors, have already banned so-called ‘vaccine passports.’ A slew of Republicans in other states have proposed such legislation, but many are doomed to fail as they are in Democrat-run areas.
Montana and Arkansas specifically have made it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of vaccination status – similar to anti-discrimination laws related to gender identity, race and religion.
New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits requiring a COVID-19 vaccine only in cases of disability, doctor guidance against the jab or ‘sincere held religious beliefs.’
‘An individual may not be required to receive any vaccine whose use is allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials,’ reads Montana’s bill, which was signed May 7, 2021 and immediately put into effect.
STATES’ CORONAVIRUS VACCINE-RELATED LAWS
Montana: ‘An individual may not be required to receive any vaccine whose use is allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials.’
The law bars discrimination in form of denying a person ‘services, goods, facilities, advantages, privileges, licensing, educational opportunities, health care access, or employment opportunities based on vaccination status’
Arkansas: ‘The state, a state agency or entity, a political subdivision of the state, or a state or local official shall not discriminate against or coerce in any way an individual for refusing to receive a vaccine or immunization for coronavirus.’
House Bill 1547 bars ‘coercion’ in forms of threats, conditional employment and benefits or ‘positive incentives’ to those who do receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
New Jersey: ‘An employer can require that an employee receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the workplace, unless the employee cannot get the vaccine because of a disability, because their doctor has advised them not to get the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance.’
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits employers from mandating anything an employee is religiously against – including vaccines.
Student exemptions: Minnesota, New York, South Dakota and Tennessee
Banning vaccine Passports: Kansas, Minnesota, Vermont
States that have already banned ‘vaccine passports’: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota
States with student exemptions for vaccines: Alabama, Montana and Oklahoma
The national vaccine effort has slowed substantially since the early days of distribution.
Joe Biden’s administration has run out of ideas on how to raise the COVID vaccination rate as it stagnated, Politico reported.
The vaccinated rate among adults sits at 68 per cent.
Biden missed his July 4, 2021 goal to get 70 per cent of American adults at least one dose of the vaccine and 160 million fully vaccinated by the mid-summer holiday.
Combatting hesitancy among Republicans, minority communities and southern states has been one of the administration’s biggest obstacles.