We might not have any major marriage equality questions before the U.S. Supreme Court this session, but at least one case could significantly affect life for LGBTs.
We’re talking about the Obama administration’s appeal of a ruling that Hobby Lobby, the craft store, cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for employees. The store’s lawyers successfully argued that the company is a religious “person,” and can’t be compelled to violate certain religious beliefs.
Yes. That’s right. Arts and craft stores are people now. This is the world we live in.
And you can probably see where this is going. If any company can circumvent any law by claiming religious belief, then anti-discrimination laws don’t mean a whole heck of a lot. This could mean the beginning of a lot of Supreme-Court-approved antigay animus from businesses who can now claim that Jesus told them to stone their gay customers.
It’s hard to imagine that a craft store could be antigay, for heaven’s sake. But Hobby Lobby works hand-in-hand with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the same group pushing lawsuits around the country. So when you buy pipe cleaners and thumbtacks at the store, you’re part of the vast antigay conspiracy.
In other words, you might want to think carefully about where to shop when you need new scrapbooking supplies. We hear nice things about Michael’s, and we know all you artistic gays buy lots and lots of craft supplies.
Hobby Lobby’s no stranger to charges of discrimination. Back in 1999, there were a flurry of reports of anti-gay Hobby Lobby employees at Colorado stores, although nothing ever seems to have been corroborated. And there were accusations of anti-Semetism at a New Jersey store in 2013. (The chain carried Christmas decorations, but nothing for Jewish holidays.) They have 550 stores all over the country, so you probably have one close to you.
So here we are: this week the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to take the case. And soon, they could rule that a strongly-held belief is more important than the rule of law. Better stock up on yarn now before things get any more testy.