Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hobby Lobby, Contraception, and the threat to LGBT rights

By now you know that a company called Hobby Lobby wants to opt out of the provision of contraception to its employees, on the grounds that contraception is abortion (medically incorrect), and because Hobby Lobby's owners are devout Christians of a certain type.

This breathtaking expansion of the concept of "religious liberty" to allow companies to discriminate, could also allow a Muslim to demand women to wear a headscarf, or a Catholic to refuse to hire a man who remarried following divorce.

make no mistake this is linked to LGBT rights, because if you expand "religious liberty" to such a degree, you empower discrimination against gay people as well.  After all, if Hobby Lobby wins, then the bookstore down the street can refuse to hire a gay guy--or refuse to cover his husband under their health care that they offer straight spouses.

Harry Knox lays it out:
The plaintiffs in this case may say that they are fighting for religious freedom, but really they are fighting to avail themselves of all the legal and economic benefits that accrue to corporations while simultaneously availing themselves of the protections granted to individual citizens by the First Amendment. Wrapping this attempt to create a privileged legal category for corporate entities in the cloak of religious freedom demeans that freedom and those who cherish it. 
.... What court is wise enough to determine whether a corporation claiming to operate according to religious scruples is resisting a law for economic or ideological reasons? What conviction, no matter how baseless, cannot be wrapped in the protective cloak of faith?
The attempt to exclude contraceptive care from the Affordable Care Act is another step in asserting that entities -- not even individuals but entities -- have rights that trump those of women and their families. 
Bishop Gene Robinson draws the link between this, and the attempt to deny recognition to LGBT people.
I am watching a remarkable phenomenon: Followers of Jesus pleading with the government to allow them to shun those they regard as "sinners."Arizona's recent attempt to make it a religious right to discriminate, and similar efforts in other states, would give businesses the right not to serve almost anyone, for almost any reason, as long as it involved a seriously held religious belief. Services of all kinds could be denied to anyone whom the provider judged to be living an immoral life, according to their brand of religion.
Christians are not refusing to cater weddings of adulterers or gossips (condemned by name in Scripture), nor are they claiming that their religious beliefs are offended by photographing the wedding of someone who is greedy or a legislator who cuts food stamp funding. But bake a wedding cake for two people of the same gender, who love each other and are willing to take on the life-long commitment of marriage? This kind of Christian is not only offended but also claims to be a victim.
What it comes down to is this:
The Greens claim that corporations, through their owners, have freedom of religion — a very slippery slope. But should the entire company and its14,000 employees be held hostage by the beliefs of its owners?
Bishop Gene concludes,
Sometimes, even for a bishop, it's embarrassing to be a Christian. Not that I'm embarrassed by Jesus, whose life was spent caring and advocating for the marginalized, and whom I believe to be the perfect revelation of God. I'm just sometimes embarrassed to be associated with others who claim to follow him.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I think birth control and LGBT rights are BOTH symptoms: the root issue here is "Does an employer have the right to control their employees' lives? Do you sign over your First Amendment rights to your (for-profit) employer when you agree to work for them?"

If SCOTUS finds for Hobby Lobby, all bets are off. Its Our Corporations-Are-People-My-Friend Employers' World, we just subsist in it.*

* As in subsist-ance wages, because who's to say they don't have religious objections to minimum wage laws?