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LGBT, HIV Activists Express Concern Over SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Ruling

Monday Jun 30, 2014

Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case that gave employers the right to claim religious objections to deny women coverage for contraception has many LGBT and HIV rights activists concerned about the possible consequence set by this precedent.

In a statement released today, The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force expressed concerns about how this ruling may affect transgender employees.

"This is a dangerous precedent from the Court -- which could leave women in limbo for their basic health care. Under the ruling, some corporations will be treated like religious institutions and these so-called 'religious corporations' will not have to pay for health care that they disagree with.[...]What happens if a trans woman needs hormones and their bosses won't pay?"

Lambda Legal expressed concerns about the ramifications religious exemptions may have on workplace discrimination. The group called for Congress to enact workplace discrimination legislation.

"Today's ruling is about the ACA and women's reproductive health and rights, but some may mistake this narrow ruling as a wide open door for religious liberty exemptions from other statutes that protect employees and the public. Today's opinion says doing so would be incorrect. However, recent mistreatment of LGBT people in employment and other commercial settings still makes this extremely troubling. A business owner's religious objection to a worker's same-sex spouse or a customer's LGBT identity is not acceptable grounds for discrimination. It is more important than ever that states and Congress enact strong, clear nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

An article in The Advocate pointed out that this ruling could affect gay employees access to HIV prevention medication.

Birth control for women is a lot like pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PReP, for gay men, for example. Truvada PReP is a pill taken daily that prevents HIV-negative men from contracting the disease during sex with other men. Hobby Lobby argued that offering coverage for certain types of contraception made them complicit in what amounted to abortion. Obviously, the Christian-owned chain of craft stores is also opposed to gay people having sex with each other, and likely wouldn't want to be complicit in that, either.


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