FreedomOhio asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to withdraw the amicus brief his office filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Kathleen Sebelius cases. The request comes two weeks after FreedomOhio, the state’s largest LGBT equality group, helped stop Ohio House Bill 376 – the Gay Discrimination Bill. Oral arguments in the cases will be heard March 25th.
In the brief, DeWine argues companies have an inherent religious freedom and therefore are not required to participate in the Affordable Care Act. However, FreedomOhio notes that the cases go well beyond “Obamacare,” and opens the door to “wholesale anti-gay discrimination.”
“FreedomOhio respectfully asks AG DeWine to withdraw his participation in this case,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio’s Executive Director. “Suggesting corporations can have a religious belief, and therefore the right to religious expression, opens a door to dangerous unintended consequences in which Federal Law would permit anti-gay discrimination nationwide.”
James says the legitimate and warranted concern is DeWine’s argument would legalize the right of a corporation to refuse goods and services to those with whom it claims to have an objection based upon the expression of a “sincere religious belief.”
“We don’t believe the Attorney General has fully considered the discrimination that his argument would enshrine in Federal Law,” James said. “Extending the right of religious freedom to a corporation is a dangerous step far beyond the intent of the Founding Fathers because unlike people, corporations can be bought and sold to other countries and interests. When sold, these new owners may not fit into a neat well-intentioned Christian package of thought or practice. And therein lies the significant and dangerous slippery slope of unintended consequences which also diminishes the freedom that is historically and rightfully held by houses of worship, not corporations.”
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is considered ultra-conservative, vetoed legislation that would have afforded businesses a right to “religious freedom” at the urging of various high-profile Republican lawmakers, including former Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. Ohio’s legislature killed a mirror bill calling the bill unnecessary and unwise.
FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with more than 62,000 members. The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014. The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.