This month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, which call into question whether a for-profit corporation can legally deny employees contraception healthcare coverage under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, this could spell trouble for LGBT people even as the LGBT movement continues to fight back these so-called “licenses to discriminate” on the state level.
In a column for USA Today, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards and HRC President Chad Griffin illustrate what such a reality would look like for LGBT and allied Americans:
“Imagine a world where a bank can refuse to approve a mortgage for a single mother – or a same-sex couple, even in one of the 17 states that allows them to marry – because they don't fit what the bank's corporate owner sees as a morally acceptable household.
Imagine a word where adoption agencies can turn away a lesbian prospective parent because the owner of the agency disapproves of the woman's "lifestyle" despite state and local laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse services to the LGBT community on the basis of religious freedom. HRC was on the ground in Arizona, bolstering support from leading businesses and faith leaders against the horrendous bill that nearly became law. Though Governor Brewer did the right thing, the fight is not over. Kansas, Mississippi and many more states are poised to similar legislation forward, despite the overwhelming call from Americans nationwide to the contrary.
According to a poll by Third Way and the Human Rights Campaign ,69 percent of Americans don’t think a business owner should be allowed to refuse to provide products or services to an individual because that person is gay or lesbian, compared to an incredibly small 15% that do. And when asked about small business owners in particular, a full 68% of Americans don’t think they should be able to refuse service to gays or lesbians, regardless of their religious beliefs. This supermajority included 55% of Republicans, 75% of Independents, 67% of people without college degrees, and 68% of Christians.
When asked specifically about wedding-related services, like catering, flowers, or cakes, being provided by small businesses, 64% of voters were still opposed to new laws that would allow small businesses to deny wedding-related services based on their religious beliefs, compared to 31% in favor.
Follow the HRC Blog for more as we continue to follow the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius cases.