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Supreme Court to make historic gay rights ruling

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments in the case of Hobby Lobby, Inc. v. Sebelius to determine if the arts and crafts company is eligible to be exempt from providing their staff members with birth control medications as prescribed in the Affordable Care Act.

Hobby Lobby claims that providing birth control violates the company's "sincerely held religious beliefs" and according to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), they do not have to abide by the law. In reality, the RFRA was enacted to protect individual's religious freedoms, not those of national corporations.

What does this have to do with gay rights? If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, Incorporated, it will then allow other corporations to fire or not hire LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people based on the company's "sincerely held religious beliefs". The fact is, for-profit national corporations cannot have "sincerely held religious beliefs" and therefore they would not be exempt from the law. The owners of Hobby Lobby can have religious beliefs and have those beliefs protected by federal law. However, as the owners of a company, their company must abide by federal law and provide birth control to their employees, just as any other corporation.

Every single one of the Fortune 500 companies are against Hobby Lobby's lawsuit. Many of these companies are saying "We want to create a business friendly environment; not one where companies can hide behind exemptions that don't apply to them in order to discriminate against women or gay people."

These laws represent a dangerous and radical break from our national commitment to equality. We don't allow businesses to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or a number of other protected categories -- even if the business owners have religious objections. A company run by Quakers can't refuse to do business with veterans. One run by Muslims can't refuse to do business with Jews. Business owners who believe women belong in the home can't refuse to hire women.

Yet allowing Hobby Lobby to disregard the Affordable Care Act on the basis of its owners' religious beliefs could make discriminating against gay people the law of the land. Sixty years ago this May, the Supreme Court struck a decisive blow against Jim Crow when it struck down school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. Will the Supreme Court mark Brown's anniversary by ruling in Hobby Lobby's favor and ushering in a new era of legally sanctioned discrimination?