CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out strongly condemned today’s Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which granted privately held for-profit corporations the right to impose their owners’ religious beliefs on employees’ health care decisions. In a 5-4 opinion, split along party lines, Justice Samuel Alito concluded that, since religious nonprofits may be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for contraception coverage, it follows that privately held corporations should be able to exercise the same rights if contraception makes the owners uncomfortable.
“This divisive ruling is disgraceful, and will go down as one of the worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Because of this decision, business owners will have enormous leverage to impose their religious beliefs in the workplace, and to coerce employees into abiding by them. The court has decided, as in Citizens United, that corporations are people. The sooner this ruling is reversed the better it will be for America.”
The dissenting justices pointed out that this ruling sets a grave precedent allowing corporations to flout any laws they don’t like, in the name of “religious freedom,” a phrase which, we would add, seems to have lost its last shred of meaning today. Indeed, it sets up a tiered system where the religious freedom of one’s boss is deemed more important that one’s own constitutional rights.
“This was not a victory for any rational definition of ‘religious freedom,’ but for religious coercion,” said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. “This ruling, far from simply being about contraception, is chilling in that it could potentially allow any crackpot who owns a company to deny his employees all kinds of health coverage, simply because his religious beliefs don’t allow for them.”
Though the ruling was narrow, applying only to privately held for-profit corporations, the opinion could be far-reaching in practice, effectively creating a mechanism for American corporations to flout the law in any number of areas, including the hiring and firing of LGBT people, simply because the person in the CEO’s chair believes differently from his employees.
“The Supreme Court may have just sent our nation down an actual slippery slope,” said TWO’s Besen. “As the liberal justices on the Court pointed out, this is a ruling of ‘startling breadth,’ and it goes against everything we used to stand for as a nation. When our Founding Fathers guaranteed religious freedom to all citizens, they didn’t amend it to say that your boss’s religious freedom is more important than your own. What a disgraceful day for the Court and for the United States.”
Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.