Hobby Lobby, an American for-profit company with conservative Christian values, and the smaller Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by Mennonite Christians, are all up in my Supreme Court (SCOTUS) today trying to take away female employees’ right to family planning.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the crux of the issue, shall we? This all started with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and this challenge is just the latest, but not the last, in a string of right-wing attacks on it. Sigh.
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood’s lawyers are arguing that corporations should not have to provide employee health insurance under the ACA that covers intrauterine devices (IUDs) and morning-after pills on religious grounds. The company owners (all of whom are male) are morally opposed to emergency contraceptives, calling them a form of abortion, even though they’re not. IUDs and morning-after pills don’t cause abortion, but prevent pregnancy. Abortions aren’t abortions unless there is a pregnancy to abort.
Conestoga Wood’s lawyers are from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona non-profit that provides legal support to Christians who feel their religious liberties are being threatened. I find it difficult not to roll my eyes when Christians act like victims of discrimination in the America.
Conestoga Wood has just over 1,000 employees. Hobby Lobby has approximately 18,000 employees, and I’d never heard of either of them before they decided to bother the Supreme Court. Apparently, I’m not big on hobbies or lobbies.
I’m sure some of those 19,000 combined employees are men, so, yes, they have a point that they shouldn’t have to provide IUDs and morning-after pills for all of their employees, but as for the women, yes, they bloody well do.
The only exceptions to the health care mandate under the ACA are certain non-profit organizations. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are for-profit companies, and as such, the leeway afforded to non-profit organizations does not apply to them. At least, if I were a Supreme Court Justice, that’s what I would say, but sadly, no one has nominated me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a law degree. Details schmetails.
If I were a Supreme Court Justice, I wouldn’t even allow non-profit organizations to opt out of providing family planning. It is and should be every woman’s choice, regardless of where they work.
If you don’t agree with abortion, you don’t have to have one. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I don’t go around telling children he doesn’t exist and ruining Christmas. Celebrating Christmas is a choice, your choice, and I respect your right to have it. I don’t want to take Christmas away from everyone, so why do some fundamentalist Christians want to take away my right to family planning? Nobody has a right to decide what I do with my vagina but me–not my boyfriend, not the government, not my employer, not the ACA, and not Christians.
I’m already off point here though. Let’s go back to the case that SCOTUS is hearing today.
The ACA requires employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide basic preventive care for employees, including several methods of contraception approved by the Food And Drug Administration.
Busybody Hobby Lobby President Steve Green is all, like, “Nuh uh, my employees shouldn’t have a right to decide when or if they have babies because Jesus. It’s my supreme right as their employer to decide when and if they can have children. Muahaha.”
That previous paragraph is probably not a direct quote. This one, however, is an attributable quote: “We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally is what we should operate our lives by … and so we cannot be a part of taking life.” I had no idea scripturally was a word. You learn something every day. Also, “principles… is.”
Well, that’s all well and fine, Steve Green, but you do not have a right to force your beliefs on your employees. In fact, it’s against the law to do so. Regardless of your personal beliefs, you cannot discriminate against employees because they’re female, gay, old, from Arizona, a Satan worshipper, a Justin Bieber fan, a unicorn or any other criteria. As an employer, you are required to treat everyone equally. It sucks, I know. Those Bieber fans are a pain in the ass.
CEO and founder David Green said, “It’s our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something against our conscience.” I’m assuming that David and Steve Green are probably related and not a married gay couple.
David, you’re trying to take your employees’ rights away, while at the same time, arguing that they’re infringing on your rights. That’s ballsy. It’s also evil and hypocritical.
Now, let’s hear from the voice of reason in this case, which ironically, also happens to be the government. I’m just going to quote an NPR article by Nina Totenberg, because this is gold as is:
The government, however, points to a long line of Supreme Court cases that take a contrary view, declaring that the court has never found a for-profit company to be a religious organization for purposes of federal law. Indeed, the Justice Department says in its briefs that the government would be unable to function if religious beliefs could be the basis for corporations’ refusing to comply with generally applied laws — be they child labor laws, immunization laws, laws that mandate serving racially mixed groups or income tax laws that require everyone to pay, no matter how the government spends the money.
Furthermore, the government argues that Hobby Lobby, in claiming it is exempt from some requirements of the health care law, is shifting the burden to its employees.
“This is an earned benefit, not a freebie. And it’s an earned benefit to which women contribute their share of the premium,” said former Clinton administration Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, who filed a brief siding with the government.
“Here the employees of the Hobby Lobby corporate enterprise aren’t and should not be expected to share the religious beliefs of the Greens. What you really have is one family attempting to utilize their economic leverage to impose their religious beliefs on others,” Dellinger continued.
As I see it, this is treading into dangerous territory. The right-wing is trying to use the ACA as a lever to remove laws that were already in place before the ACA was enacted, e.g. Roe v. Wade. They tried a frontal assault and were denied by the Supreme Court, so now they’re attacking the flanks. They’re shooting in the dark, hoping that one of those shots will hit a target, and perhaps take out collateral laws they don’t approve of based on their moral views as well.
This is not just about women’s rights; this is about civil rights. If these corporations win, the decision could have cringe-inducing impact by paving the way for unconscionable laws like Arizona’s “religious freedom” bill, designed to allow businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people because Jesus.
To Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood and all the other lunatics like them who are clogging up the courts with ridiculous attacks under the guise of “family values,” knock it off. I use quotes around family values, because Christians are not the only ones with families or values.
You chose to be for-profit, and therefore, the exemption based on religious grounds does not apply to you. You already have all the religious freedom your shriveled hearts desire in your personal lives where it belongs.
To SCOTUS, corporations are not people and they should not have the right to force religious views on employees by denying them the right to basic preventative care under the law. Do the right thing here. Pretty please?
Fuck Hobby Lobby. Fuck Conestoga Wood. Fuck the Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family, The American Family Association and every other Christian group tinkering with laws in order to take us back to the 1950s when women cooked dinner in skirts, homosexuals hid in closets and the races didn’t mingle. We tried that once and outgrew it. I don’t want to live in that world. Fuck bigotry and misogyny masquerading as “family values.”
We are all impacted by this prejudice, not just women, not just the LGBT community, but all of us. These attacks on civil rights have got to stop.