Hobby Lobby & PWAs

First Generation
by Chuck Willman

Hobby Lobby & PWAs
Is a backlash brewing that might limit access to healthcare?

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has basically given brick and mortar structures and the “fat-cats” who sit in them on their expensively attired, powerful butts—literally getting to make all of the rules now—I worry that we might see a backlash like we’ve never seen.

Let’s face it, a large percentage of the population of the country is still pissed off with the momentum of same-sex marriage as it barrels forward from state to state like a speed train, with an ever-growing number of court judges around the country defying initiatives voted on during elections, therefore turning over the intentions and decisions of “the people.” (Majorities do hate it when low-life minorities—like us—actually get a bone tossed our way now and then. And the marriage equality movement is like a dinosaur’s skeleton being scattered all over the country.) “Stays” are being used against us in an effort to stall or stop this momentum and, in my opinion, allow states to find the right judges to put a total stop to any gains the marriage equality movement is making. That’s backlash number one.

With the Supreme Court’s recent and ridiculous decision on Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius—which was supposed to be about President Obama’s healthcare law, and the requirement that employers provide health insurance that included coverage for birth control—business owners can now use “religious freedom” as a sole reason to deny the most effective contraceptives. (One more dagger into the rights of women to control their own bodies.) At least that’s what the decision’s intent is. What began as a battle against reproductive rights under the guise of “religious freedom” could turn into a knit-picking battle of interpretations. Now, basically anyone’s religious views can “trump” another person’s “right” to a great number of things. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s dissent emphasized how the term “religious freedom” can mean very different things to different people. “The court,” she wrote in a biting summary, “I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

There are several LGBT activists and legal observers that don’t seem to be too worried about the SCOTUS/Hobby Lobby decision and its impact on our community. The ACLU said that “while the court expanded corporate power, it made really clear that the decision was narrow. It will not operate as a shield from other kinds of discrimination laws.”

But we all know how quickly things change when it comes down to money and the bottom line, especially when we’re not the most popular folks at the party. (In fact, most of the time it’s obvious we weren’t invited in the first place, and we’re not welcomed anyway.)

My fear is that a decision about reproductive rights now will open up to become an enormous “moral” elephant that none of us expected to deal with. More to the point, I worry that those of us who rely on ridiculously (I would say almost criminally) expensive medication as a result of having a disease that, well, has lost a lot of its “popularity” after thirty years—meaning, liked, understood, tolerated, even mentioned so as not to offend anyone’s morality as we’re still seen as sexual deviants—may find ourselves scrambling at some point in the future for the very medication(s) that keep us alive. Why? The LGBT community is not liked, especially those of us infected with a virus that still is misunderstood and carries a stigma that after thirty years we’re still trying to fight. It’s as simple as that. But that’s probably not a big surprise to most of us. We like to pretend that we’re part of the crowd; just blending in along with everyone else. But we don’t. Many of us “old timers” can’t even pass as “normal” anymore.

So those expensively attired fat butts, now sitting as corporate heads and legally able to make all of the decisions, will, I’m afraid, sooner rather than later, decide their “religious freedom” (which, of course, is shared by all the other fat-butt-corporate-heads) can and will trump our very existence and survival. That’s pure conjecture on my part, I know. But let’s face facts: If a corporation has the opportunity to save millions, if not billions of dollars by not providing treatments and medication to a “small” population based on “morality” and religious freedom, and if a SCOTUS decision will be open to myriad interpretations, protecting decisions which could be challenged in courts, but could take years to sort out, those of us trying to stay alive either pay even more for medications, or may have to make the choice to simply go without depending on our financial situations.

This is merely a theory—and fear—of mine, an “interpretation.” And while I may sound paranoid or alarmist, “interpretation” in any legal arena, is a powerful word that can be dangerous and unpredictable.

For those of us who have been battling HIV/AIDS for a long time, we’ve seen much stranger things happen, haven’t we?

Once again, we need to watch our backs.

Along with being a contributing writer for A&U, Chuck’s had other work published in journals, magazines, anthologies, and e-books.