In a stunning turn of events, key gay rights groups withdrew their support for ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act). This legislation would enshrine into law employment protections for the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity. Once advocates for the bill, and enthusiastic in support of the Senate's passage of the bill last year, the groups are now reneging their support of the legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. Organizations fear that the Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby grants expansive powers for corporations to discriminate against LGBT persons. It should be noted that the Senate version passed contained modest religious liberty protections.
Then again, maybe the move is not so stunning given the Left’s response to the Hobby Lobby ruling. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said, “If a private company can take its own religious beliefs and say you can’t have access to certain health care, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to an interpretation that a private company could have religious beliefs that LGBT people are not equal or somehow go against their beliefs and therefore fire them… The implications of Hobby Lobby are becoming clear.”
Director Carey’s warning that the Hobby Lobby ruling leaves the country a short step from the persecution of some is a giant leap on her part. In ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court affirmed the Green and Hahn family’s religious freedom and held that closely held corporations cannot be forced to provide coverage that includes access to potentially abortion-inducing drugs, drugs that they believe violates deeply held moral convictions.
Rather than see the ruling as a win for the religious freedom of every citizen of the United States, the Left views it as an attack on sexual liberty. They insist Hobby Lobby is denying women contraception and warn that the precedent guarantees persecution for some groups in the future. The Left rarely acknowledges that Hobby Lobby promises to cover 16 of the 20 forms of contraception and the ruling’s explicitly narrow language.
For their part, conservatives continue to stress that the Hobby Lobby ruling does not grant businesses the right to withhold blood transfusions from their employees’ihealth coverage. No corporation will automatically be allowed to opt out of any aspect of health coverage they find problematic.
Appeals do not guarantee that closely held corporations who object will be allowed to opt out. Because of conditions set by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the act the Hobby Lobby ruling was based on), complaints can be overruled if the government shows the burden to that person is (i) in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
In the case of Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court argued that since the government had already made accommodations to certain religious groups, the same accommodations could be made to for-profit organizations like Hobby Lobby. It is this logic that has upset the left and started a chain reaction of enraged responses. In their minds, supporting Hobby Lobby and religious liberty is compromising to the values of sexual liberty. It is for this reason the Left refuses to budge.
Gay rights groups have now chosen to remove their support of ENDA and channel their energy into a growing sea of protests. Christians ought to pay attention to such responses. They reveal that some prioritize sexual liberty over religious liberty. What is to come can only be a continued attack on, what should be, our most valued freedom.