Hobby Lobby: The bad & good news

June 30, 2014

Op-ed by Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

The politics behind Hobby Lobby decision should cause quite a backlash, politically speaking.

Legal experts suggest that today's Hobby Lobby decision could open the gates to Sharia law in America.

Legal experts suggest that today’s Hobby Lobby decision could open the gates to Sharia law in America.

The US Supreme Court today ruled that a “closely-held” corporation could deny contraceptive benefits to its employees, one of the components of the Affordable Care Act that aimed to relieve the burden facing women, many of whom cannot afford the measure without the coverage.

By granting the Hobby Lobby’s position – that because of their “strongly held religious beliefs”  (read Christian – if they were Muslim or Hindu, do you think it’d would have gotten this far?). they could remove contraceptives from the list of co-pay items on their employee health care insurance – the court is saying that a corporation’s religious principles supersedes their obligation to insure their workers for a medical procedure that ought to be determined between a physician and the woman.

The decision, according to conservatives, isn’t all bad for progressives, they say, because, 1) only “closely-held corporations” could cite “strongly held religious beliefs” were ruled on (although critics say the ruling opens the floodgates for employers to avoid obeying virtually any law excepting tax law) and 2) that the logic applied to the ruling places a firewall between “closely-held” and large shareholder owned corporations.

A number of religions stand firmly against vaccinations, causing some schools to ban children who haven't had them from school.

A number of religions stand firmly against vaccinations, causing some schools to ban children who haven’t had them from school.

That is as disingenuous a statement as there is.

The ruling will invite religious challenges to vaccinations, to mental health treatments, to sects wishing to use traditional medicines to treat life-threatening or public health threatening illnesses.

The precedent could easily jump those medical treatment rails and be applied to a wide variety of business’s “problems” with government over-reach, for any business can now stretch the Supe’s definition (small business with 50 percent or more owned by one person or family) to larger corporations with more stakeholders who wield less influence in the board room.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, “Today’s decision from five male justices is a direct attack on women and our fundamental rights. This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination.


The statement continued, “Allowing bosses this much control over the health-care decisions of their employees is a slippery slope with no end. Every American could potentially be affected by this far-reaching and shocking decision that allows bosses to reach beyond the boardroom and into their employees’ bedrooms.

“The majority claims that its ruling is limited, but that logic doesn’t hold up. Today it’s birth control; tomorrow it could be any personal medical decision, from starting a family to getting life-saving vaccinations or blood transfusions.”

Another fear expressed by social justice advocates is that the ruling could be applied to a wide variety of actions that would give the green light to discrimination of minority groups, especially the LGBT movement.

We already have seen a baker refuse to bake a cake for a wedding because it involved a same-sex couple and that did not fit with his religious beliefs. Not only that, but ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination against lesbians and gays at work, must still make its way through the House.

Laws similarly protecting lesbians and gays have been enacted in 21 states and transgenders in 17, but those laws could come under assault with this reasoning.

Jen Pizer spoke on behalf of Lambda Legal, the nation's largest legal advocacy group for LGBTs.

Jen Pizer spoke on behalf of Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal advocacy group for LGBTs.

The leading LGBT legal advocacy group in Los Angeles, Lambda Legal, commented:

Today’s majority ruling disregards decades of case law that drew a protective line between free religious expression and religious dominance of others. It is a radically dangerous decision that invites more misguided actions contrary to essential protections for employees, customers and the public…,” said Jen Pizer.

“Today’s ruling is about the ACA and women’s reproductive health and rights, but some may mistake this narrow ruling as a wide open door for religious liberty exemptions from other statutes that protect employees and the public… [as] recent mistreatment of LGBT people in employment and other commercial settings still makes this extremely troubling.

“A business owner’s religious objection to a worker’s same-sex spouse or a customer’s LGBT identity is not acceptable grounds for discrimination.”

And so goes the return salvo in this War on Women, the one Republicans have been waging and denying for years. It took seconds for leadership in the party make clear that they would use the Hobby Lobby case to remind women of the personal consequences of voting Republican in the November Mid-term.

An e-mail blast from the Democratic Party called the case a “wake-up call,” and urged recipients to “stand up for women’s rights” by electing Democrats to Congress.

The GOP’s radio entertainers and bloggers did a happy dance, with right wing-nut Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger tweeting: “My religion trumps your ‘right’ to employer subsidized consequence free sex.”


Hey-nanny-nah-nah. Yes, you can gloat. We do often enough when things go progressive’s way.

Just remember that you have put women in a position where they must either pay to feed the children they have or pay to avoid having more kids.

Just before an election.

Each woman’s vote counts as much as a man’s, a Christian’s or a zealot’s.