Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Your Beliefs Don't Trump Mine; A take on the Hobby Lobby decision

The Supreme Court has had an opportunity to screw-up  rule on the idea that corporations could use religion as an excuse to avoid a law that they disagree with and they ran with it.  A lot of people talk about how this is picking corporations over women, and they are right.  A lot of people talk about how this protects the religious beliefs of a minority group over the rights of others, and they are right.  This ruling will allow for further challenges to following a law because you can claim that your religion doesn't agree with it.

I think this is a prime example of how religious conservatives will attempt to impose their belief structure on everyone else.  This is what concerns me so much.  Many on the right, like State Senator Ernie Otten and State Representative Issac Latterell and State Representative Steve Hickey, want to use their religious beliefs as the justification for not serving people of the LGBT community.  They claim the need to protect the business owner, but ignore protecting the individual being discriminated in the name of religion.

Law teacher Renee Ann Cramer of Drake University makes a clear case for concern over the Supreme Court ruling when she writes:

This seems to be a narrow ruling, as it only allows employers to refuse to cover contraception. And, the majority opinion stresses that the ruling will not allow racial discrimination in employment, nor other forms of discrimination from which we have statutory protection. We are supposed to find comfort in that narrowness, I suppose; but I do not. The Court has, in a five member majority, has declared that contraception – and women’s access to it – is unimportant. Women’s health care decisions are less than compelling, less than important. 
Women are less than human. 
Worse, corporations are now somehow even more human than they ever have been.
According to the Alito’s decision, corporations are so human that they can have religious beliefs. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes it clear that this is a far cry from previous holdings, which recognized that the “exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities.” This decision denigrates religious belief, even as it presumes to uphold it. It makes a mockery of the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act, which was passed by Congress, with the support of a diverse faith coalition, as a progressive corrective to previous Supreme Court rulings that denied minority religious freedoms. RFRA was meant to expand ways to believe and practice religion, for members of the Native American Church, for Rastafarians, for Quakers, for Orthodox Jews. 
The RFRA has been used by the Court today to expand the rights of a small minority of religious believers, to allow their religious beliefs to trump women’s health care decisions, and to enshrine a view of corporations that makes them capable of being faithful believers. How is that corporations are somehow so human that they can have beliefs that trump my, our, actual human bodies’ needs and desires?
We allow corporations or individuals to impose their belief structures on other others, we are violating "the other's" rights.  When I say that I want to use a certain birth control method that has been proven to be medically safe and used by many people for reasons other than abortion as you claim, but you prevent me based in your beliefs, your rights now trump my own.  When I use the method of birth control you object and you choose not to use that birth control method, you are not harmed.  I have not taken away any of your rights.  When I want to celebrate my love of another human being who happens to be of the same-sex, I am not forcing you to become LGBT.  I am not forcing to abandon your belief structures, I am simply trying to exercise my beliefs and pursue my individual happiness.

Some argue that this is a small group, and only impacts those corporations owned by families.  Some of the largest corporations in the United States are privately-held corporations run by a family.  They include corporations like Bechtel, SC Johnson, Kholer, and Mars, Inc.  This ruling impacts millions immediately that have access to medicines that help regulate hormones and prevent pregnancies.  

So while the South Dakota GOP might claim:
"....For years, Americans have accused the President and his administration of trying to limit their unalienable right to practice a faith of their choice without fear of government intrusion. Today’s decision reaffirmed that freedom and we are pleased that the Court refused to allow any limit on this essential liberty.”
The only freedom that they want to preserve is the freedom that supports their specific beliefs and not those people that may disagree with them.  It is important that we don't let this ruling slide.  Don't get wrapped up in anti-ACA language our anti-Obama language.  This is about allowing a group to impose a set of beliefs upon the rest of the nation.   This is about dehumanizing others and humanizing money and corporations.

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