A recently passed bill in Michigan could make it a felony to intimidate someone by intentionally using the wrong gender pronouns, according to some legal experts.
Michigan's state House of Representatives has passed bill HB 4474, a piece of legislation that criminalizes causing someone to feel threatened by words.
Under the new bill, offenders are "guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000."
"'Intimidate' means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable individual to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened," the bill reads.
The bill specifically addresses "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" as protected classes.
According to the bill, "'Gender identity or expression' means having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity or expression whether or not associated with an individual's assigned sex at birth."
Critics are accusing the bill of violating the First Amendment.
"Make no mistake about it. Those advocating for this legislation will wield these policies as a weapon capable of destroying conservative expression or viewpoints grounded in the sacred," Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Wagner told media outlet The Daily Wire.
"The state of Michigan is now explicitly allowing the gender delusion issue to be used as a ‘protected class.’ This opens up numerous issues when it comes to the courts and the continued weaponization of the system against conservatives," State Rep. Angela Rigas said of the bill.
She continued, "We saw similar concerns when they wanted to pass blocks on ‘conversion’ therapy. It seems Dems want to be in the business of telling people how to think."
The bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled state House in a 59-50 vote. It now moves to the Michigan State Senate for consideration.
If approved by the state senate, it will be sent for approval to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it.
Michigan lawmakers gave final approval to legislation banning "conversion therapy" for minors as Democrats in the state continue to advance a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda in their first months in power.
The legislation would prohibit mental health professionals from trying to convert youths who are LGBTQ+ to heterosexuality and traditional gender expectations.
Editor's note: This article has been updated for clarity.