In an early morning interview today on WGAU (1340AM), state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said one of the reasons he had “pre-filed” House Bill 3, a measure that would put restrictions on Muslim female garb, was to “test the waters.”
Running it up the flagpole, see who salutes. That sort of thing.
Spencer’s bill would bar applicants from wearing masks or veils while posing for their driver’s license photos – something the state Department of Driver Services already requires. The measure appears to also make the Muslim burqa and veil subject to the state’s anti-masking law, a statute originally aimed at the KKK.
One of those not saluting is Senate President pro tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, the No. 2 leader of that chamber, its ranking member, and a major backer of “religious liberty” legislation in past sessions. Shafer is also a likely 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor.
I just finished a conversation with him. Shafer’s assessment of Spencer’s proposal:
“The government has no business preventing Muslim women from wearing face scarves in public. Too many people on both sides of the religious freedom debate only want to protect freedom when it comes to their own beliefs.
“Freedom is a meaningless concept if it does not apply to all beliefs, even the ones, especially the ones, you do not share.”
Shafer is the first Republican leader in the Legislature to speak out publicly on the matter. Those waters feel pretty cold right now.