Source: Mike Malloy
demonstrators gathered outside the Rhodes Office Tower to protest Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's support of Hobby Lobby in the company's Supreme Court case claiming a religious exemption against providing reproductive services.
(image by (Steve Palm-Houser))
You have to wonder what goes through the minds of the three women on the Supreme Court when hearing arguments in the Hobby Lobby case. Surely these women have faced discrimination in their lives and careers, and they have overcome stereotypical biases to advance to the high positions they currently hold. This case must gall them to pieces.
It's a simple case to explain. The retail chain of craft stores Hobby Lobby is owned and operated by billionaire David Green. Green is a Christian, his stores are closed on Sundays. His stores play Christian musak in the background. Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act because one of its provision mandates that employers provide health coverage that covers emergency contraception.
This is from Wikipedia:
"The Green family's religious beliefs forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion-causing drugs and devices... Hobby Lobby is arguing that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act serve to protect their religious beliefs and accordingly bars the application of the contraceptive mandate to them."
Here's where it gets sticky. Hobby Lobby is a BIG employer, with over 560 nationwide stores. If it is allowed to ignore the ACA, and its employees are denied health coverage, then look for every other business, large and small, from Chick-Fil-A and Papa John's Pizza to your locally owned-and-operated Uncle Bob's Hardware Store to follow suit. Exceptions then become the rule and the idea of employer-mandated health care disappears.
If Green is so concerned about the Constitution, shouldn't he care about separation of church and state? He is asking a government entity to change a federal law to meet his particular religious beliefs. Forget all the arguments about the need for emergency contraception, for example, in cases of rape. The contraceptive use by an employee should be none of the employer's business. Does Green make an effort to prevent his male employees from purchasing condoms? Does Green object to prescription drug coverage that might include Viagra? Likely not.
As always, these efforts are directed at controlling female bodies. And as typical, they are using the Bible to reinforce their discrimination. Gene Robinson is an Episcopal Priest, and he is gay. He had this to say about the decision now facing the Supreme Court:
"In 2003, I prepared for my consecration as a bishop by donning a bulletproof vest beneath my religious robes because of death threats from 'good, religious people' who still believed that homosexual people are despicable in the eyes of God. As an openly gay man, elected as an Episcopal bishop, I was reviled even by other bishops in my own church. I know something about religion-based discrimination.
"A decade later, I am watching a remarkable phenomenon: Followers of Jesus pleading with the government to allow them to shun those they regard as 'sinners.' Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments by Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, asking the court for the right to discriminate against their employees who are entitled to reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act. I know that Hobby Lobby's owner family, the Greens, are deeply religious people, and I respect their beliefs. They object to certain forms of birth control, claiming they constitute abortion (a 'fact' disputed by much of the medical community). The Greens claim that corporations, through their owners, have freedom of religion -- a very slippery slope. But should the entire company and its 14,000 employees be held hostage by the beliefs of its owners?
"A decision in favor of Hobby Lobby would... not be a victory for religious freedom, but a victory for discrimination and a repudiation of the vital progress the court has made in securing equal justice for all."
We can only hope that the court understands the precedent that could be set with this decision. And by the way, Michael's is less expensive, and they have better stock. And you can buy yarn on Sundays ...