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4 Reasons Why the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case is a Big Deal

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March 19, 2014

Recently, there has been a huge uproar over Arizona’s discriminatory bill contrasting religious freedoms and LGBT discrimination. Fortunately, Arizona’s governor vetoed the bill. However, not many of those who opposes the Arizona bill are talking about the Supreme Court case involving Hobby Lobby, a for-profit arts and crafts store. The company is facing legal matters in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby where the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) is used as a standard the company to deny its employees health care coverage for contraceptives. We heard the same debate used during the Obamacare debate, but using the First Amendment’s religious freedom argument to drive a wedge is taking it to another level.

Here are 4 reasons why this case should be a no brainer:

1). Insurance, not medical care

There’s a clear delineation between the employer purchasing medical care for their employees and purchasing health insurance. Health insurance is a part of a salary package including overtime pay, vacation, a 401k plan, etc. The employer shouldn’t get to pick and choose what they want to give to their employees. Just like how you can’t dictate what your employees use their income for, you also shouldn’t tell them how they can and cannot use their health insurance. Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company, if it wants to be excluded from these laws, it can change to a religious non-profit. You don’t get to move back and forth between a company with many legal protections and an individual with strict beliefs to enforce on your company staff.

2. Birth control prevents abortions

David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby indicates, “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill, or the week-after pill….The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law.” Interesting Mr. Green, because I thought birth control was used to prevent pregnancies? Maybe not everyone did well in health class, or you know, maybe the nation suffers from abstinence only programs instead of comprehensive sex education. The morning after pill actually “delays or prevents ovulation, blocks fertilization, or keeps the egg from implanting in the uterus,” none of which are the same as an abortion. Nevertheless, these birth controls are crucial to actually lowering the rates of unintended pregnancies, and in turn, abortions. If that’s the ultimate goal, shouldn’t you be encouraging the use of birth control?

3. Gender inequality

If RFRA is going to be used as precedent to rights and protections, then the flipside of the coin can cite not only Obamacare as a national policy requiring contraceptives be included in insurance plans, but in 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies must provide birth control to their employees otherwise it violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act based on sex discrimination. It’s a man’s world because strangely, many insurance companies cover Viagra and Cialis to treat erectile dysfunction. How is pregnancy not considered a medical issue as well? Contraceptives are causing a political firestorm, but nobody is saying anything about having to pay for insurance for guys who can’t get it up? Why is female sexuality being policed, but males get a free pass for boners? I thought promiscuity was ungodly?

4. Floodgate of discrimination

We’ve seen this case unfairly targets the pro-choice community and women, but other religions and the LGBT community should be concerned too. With the Arizona case, many were concerned because the bill would allow companies to freely discriminate against LGBT folks because it was a part of their religious freedoms. If Hobby Lobby wins this case, though it’s a case about birth control, it would still open the floodgates for other realms of discrimination. It would mean that future cases would have a Supreme Court decision to support their claims. Arizona isn’t the only state attempting to pass these kinds of laws. Future religious freedom protection bills would have this federally recognized case where religious protection is a valid reason to discriminate against others. There will be a SCOTUS decision on the books that will create a slippery slope where employees who follow another religion, LGBT folks, people who have had an abortion, people with tattoos, people who wear polyester or fabric blends, divorced people, or even people who eat shellfish can be discriminated and denied protections in the workplace. Yes, technically, all of these can be used to discriminate under the guise of religious freedoms. Ridiculous huh?

Hobby Lobby needs to stop hiding behind religious liberty as a reason to unfairly discriminate against its workers. “We’re talking about the guy who’s made a living selling needlepoint kits, glitter glue, and artificial topiaries deciding whether his employees should have access to affordable birth control,” says Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Either way, I’m definitely don’t see myself shopping here in the near future. I was never one for arts and crafts anyway.

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