Think Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling was just about birth control? Think again!

— Anthony Romero, ACLU Action team

HobbyLobby01

Immediately after the Hobby Lobby ruling, Rick Warren and other high-profile religious leaders began lobbying the Obama administration. Their demand? A religious exemption from his executive order which would ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is not about freedom of religion—it’s about corporations using religion as a license to discriminate with taxpayer dollars.

This executive order is the next battleground between those clamoring for exemptions and those, like us, who believe that religious liberty shouldn’t be an excuse to impose your beliefs on others. While we can’t change the Supreme Court’s ruling, we can call on Obama to resist the pressure from the religious right.

Urge Obama to protect LGBT workers. Let him know we don’t support giving federal contractors the legal right to discriminate.

The Court’s decision created the potential for far-reaching, discriminatory ramifications. In their ruling, they set a dangerous precedent, sanctioning discrimination against women under the guise of religious liberty. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best: “the court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Just yesterday, the ACLU withdrew support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because of a loophole that would grant religiously affiliated organizations free rein to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people–the very thing ENDA is intended to prevent.

There is a clear line connecting the Court’s ruling about contraception and the hiring and firing of LGBT employees. That line is allowing bosses to use their personal religious beliefs to discriminate against their employees.

If tens of thousands of us speak out against this today, we can help Obama resist the mounting pressure from religious groups seeking the right to discriminate.

Tell Obama not to water down his landmark anti-discrimination executive order by including religious exemption.

Our bosses’ beliefs shouldn’t impact our rights as an employee. Let’s stop this before the floodgates open. Sign our petition today.

Advertisements

Yet Another Reason Why Employers Should NOT Have Control of OUR Health Care Insurance

Conservative Court Says Religious Employers Can Deny Their Workers Birth Control

— by Ian Millhiser on Jun 28, 2013 at 9:58 am

An eight-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit struck a major blow against Obama Administration rules ensuring that most workers’ health plans will cover birth control. Although Thursday’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius leaves a few procedural stones unturned before courts can begin carving holes in the birth control rules, it leaves little doubt that a majority of the court’s judges will allow employers with religious objections to birth control to withhold birth control from their employees.

The Supreme Court established more than three decades ago that a company may not “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.” As the Court explained in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” So there should be little doubt that the employer in this case, a national chain of crafting retailers, must comply with a law requiring them to include birth control coverage in their health plans. Religious objections cannot be imposed upon an employer’s workers.

The Tenth Circuit’s majority, however, brushes past this aspect of the Lee opinion, although it somehow manages to rely on Lee for the proposition that religious employers’ right to immunize themselves from the law is much more robust than many other courts have held. Simply put, the opinion is a disaster for workers whose bosses cite religious justifications for ignoring their employees’ legal rights.

The majority opinion does not simply conclude that a for profit corporation may assert a religious objection to a law — itself a questionable proposition — it even opens the door to “a large publicly traded corporation tr[ying] to assert religious rights” (although the court does admit that it would be difficult for Walmart to prove that its alleged religious beliefs are sincere). It defines an important limit on religious liberty cases, the requirement that the plaintiff show that a law “substantially burdens” their exercise of religion, so narrowly as to render this limit a nullity in many cases. And it even includes some language suggesting that religious employers could successfully object to laws ensuring “gender equality.”

The last part of the court’s reasoning is significant because it portends the next strike religious conservatives are likely to launch if they win their case against the birth control rules — empowering people with conservative religious beliefs to ignore anti-discrimination laws. As social conservative writer Ross Douthat argued shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the march towards marriage equality may be inevitable, but conservatives can still undermine this march by “build[ing] in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.” Similarly, laws forbidding discrimination against gay workers will be drastically reduced in effectiveness if employers who bear religiously motivated animus against gay people can simply ignore those laws. Today, religious conservatives have their sights set on women who use birth control. If they win, gay people are next.