Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has said exceptions in an anti-bullying bill are based on homophobia.

The bill, named after Matt Epling, a gay teen who took his own life after being the target of bullies, cleared the Republican-controlled Senate last week.

The anti-bullying bill neglects to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens and encourages the bullying of gay students by creating exceptions based on religious or moral convictions.

On the Senate floor, Whitmer accused Republicans of crafting a “license to bully.”

“In fact, not only does this not protect kids who are bullied, it further endangers them by legitimizing excuses for tormenting a student,” she said.

During an appearance on MSNBC, Thomas Roberts asked Whitmer what she believed Republicans were attempting to achieve.

“They say they care about First Amendment rights of speech, but we all know that no state can abridge your freedom of speech under the United States Constitution. This is a subterfuge, where I believe it is based on homophobia or, you know, creating rights for people. What this is about is protecting all kids. Every single kid in every walk of life. And that's who we need to be thoughtful of as this legislation moves forward,” she said. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)