Need for Safe Schools Advocacy Clear in Nebraska

Earlier this week, Nebraska's Lincoln Journal Star reported about a flier sent home with fifth grade students that offered questionable advice for "turning bullies into buddies." Lincoln officials have apologized, saying that the flier doesn't reflect actual district policy and offering their own "facts about bullying."

The flier, whose advice includes "do not tell on bullies," is indeed problematic, but it's district policy in Lincoln (see Policy 5482, pg. 130) and state policy in Nebraska that offer real cause for concern. Neither employs the bullying and harassment prevention strategies that have proven most effective. In fact, only sixteen states and the District of Columbia have in place laws that enumerate specific categories of targeted students, "underscore[ing] those students who research shows are most likely to be bullied and harassed and least likely to be protected."

 

GLSEN: Enumerated anti-bullying laws by state

We must remain engaged in safe schools advocacy at the state and local level, and we must work toward a federal baseline that holds all states, including Nebraska, accountable. It starts with the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), which supports the creation of enumerated anti-bullying policies that include data collection, public education, and grievance procedures. It continues with the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), which protects students from school-based sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes; recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination; and provides remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Check out PFAW's policy toolkit: Education Without Discrimination: Creating Safe Schools for All Students to learn more about SSIA and SNDA and how you can raise safe schools awareness.

Then take a look at PFAW's report on Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids and its 2012 update.

Finally, be sure to visit our website and Right Wing Watch for more updates.

PFAW

Scott Walker Re-Election Tour Runs Away From His Record

Governor Scott Walker announced his re-election campaign at a series of appearances Tuesday across Wisconsin, highlighting all the supposedly great things he had done for the average Wisconsinite. The list was pretty thin.

From Dane to La Crosse, Chippewa Falls, Schofield, Green Bay, and finally Fairgrounds Park in Milwaukee, Walker kicked off his campaign, rolling out a new campaign ad with the theme“Wisconsin Is Back On.”

Stating "We want to reduce the dependence on government and increase the dependence on hard work and pride," Walker bragged that his administration created 100,000 jobs during his first term, lowered taxes, and took credit for giving health care to those in poverty.

The facts behind Walker’s carefully-constructed narrative tell the real story. In his ten-minute speech to supporters at Dane Manufacturing outside Madison, Walker avoided telling the estimated 100 supporters there about his failure to create the 250,000 new jobs he repeatedly promised to create during his first term.

Walker’s list of accomplishments also leaves out how he used his state budget to move thousands of Wisconsinites off BadgerCare,delayed health insurance coverage for others, increased costs to residents, and put thousands in danger of losing coverage byrefusing to set up a state-based exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

He also didn't talk about how rather than taking more than $810 million in federal transportation funds to install high-speed commuter rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, he set Wisconsin’s economy back by refusing to participate. Months later he went back to the US Department of Transportation asking for more than $150 million to upgrade the Chicago to Milwaukee Amtrak service, which would have been covered by the initial program, costing the state millions in the process.

Walker also was mum on his crowning "achievement," decimatingstate workers’ ability to collectively bargain for wages and benefits under ACT 10. He also forgot to talk about how he increased Wisconsin’s structural deficit through massive borrowing andgiving tax cuts to the highest earners instead of average Wisconsin voters.

The biggest omission in today’s re-election announcement is also one of Walker’s most egregious offenses. Just last month the Governor signed measures restricting early voting while simultaneously expanding the time that lobbyists can give to political campaigns. He signed the bills right before he jetted off to Las Vegas to curry favor with wealthy casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

The takeaway from Scott Walker’s re-election campaign is that he’s running away from his own record, away from average voters, and towards his wealthy campaign donors.

PFAW

Video: PFAW's Drew Courtney Discusses Right Wing Conspiracy Theories on Politics Nation with Al Sharpton

Monday afternoon, Right Wing Watch reported on conspiracy theories by conservative talking heads Bernard Goldberg and Rush Limbaugh who claim that the shoe-throwing incident in Las Vegas was staged by Hillary Clinton so she could seem more presidential. Similarly, Mark Blitz told WorldNetDaily yesterday that the “blood moon” from Monday night was a divine warning to President Obama about his plans to use executive action and his bully pulpit in the face of GOP obstruction.

Last night, PFAW Director of Communications Drew Courtney joined Rev. Al Sharpton on Politics Nation to discuss these outrageous conspiracy theories and what they say about the GOP and the political process today:

PFAW

Minnesota Safe Schools Bill Becomes Law

Amid last week's activity surrounding the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's Day of Silence and the PFAW-led safe schools letter campaign came a state success for the idea that all students deserve far better than what they're getting when it comes to bullying an harassment. In the wee hours of April 9, the Minnesota House of Representatives took the final vote on the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. That afternoon Governor Mark Dayton signed it into law.

PFAW activists proudly joined OutFront Minnesota and the Safe Schools for All Coalition in supporting the bill as it moved to the Governor's desk.

PFAW will continue to stand up for safe schools.

We have released a policy toolkit designed to help activists understand and address the problem head-on. We hope that you'll use it to continue your own work on this important issue.

We also hope that you'll check out PFAW's report on Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids and its 2012 update.

Then visit our website and Right Wing Watch for more LGBT equality updates.

PFAW

Safe Schools Letter Campaign Concludes with Nearly 30 Organizations Standing Together to Say Students Deserve Better

The letter-a-day campaign for safe schools that PFAW led concluded today, when we also marked the Day of Silence – an annual event organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that is meant to draw attention to the "silencing effects" of anti-gay harassment and name-calling in schools and to be a way for students to show their solidarity with students who have been bullied.

Over the last month twenty-eight groups went on record with Congress in support of safe schools legislation. Together, we sent loud and clear the message that all students deserve far better than what they're getting when it comes to bullying and harassment in schools.

Below are excerpts from this week's letters.

Religious Action Center:

The Reform Jewish Movement has long been active in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans, including members of the LGBT community. As people of faith, our holy texts teach us that all people are created in the Divine image, b’tselem Elohim (Gen. 1:27), and should thus be treated with respect and dignity. As Jews, our tradition and history teach us that we should not stand by as others suffer– we envision a government which “to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance” (George Washington, in a letter to Moses Seixas, 1790). Yet LGBT students are frequently victimized in their own schools and at the hands of their fellow students.

National Black Justice Coalition:

We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the unspeakable tragedies unchecked bullying is causing across our nation. Students must be protected, and must feel safe and affirmed in their schools. NBJC is dedicated to the elimination of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in all our communities, and we recognize how these behaviors specifically attack those that live at the intersection of being Black and LGBT. Ultimately, this is about stopping abhorrent behavior that gets in the way of a quality education. All students deserve far better than that.

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS):

On behalf of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), an organization concerned about the sexual health education and well-being of people of all ages and particularly our nation’s youth, I urge you to actively support and cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 1652/S. 1088) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA, H.R. 1199/S. 403). Bullying and harassment in schools are pervasive problems with serious consequences for students. SNDA and SSIA are two pieces of legislation that would help create safe and healthy spaces for students to learn.

National PTA:

As the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy organization, National PTA has long advocated for the health and wellbeing of all children. PTA believes that the safety of children in school settings is a fundamental right and therefore we advocate for policies and programs that address the prevention, intervention, and elimination of bullying to allow every child full access to educational opportunities.

Advocates for Youth:

No young person should feel unsafe in their school because of who they are. Bullying and harassment have no place in our educational system, and SNDA and SSIA help us to protect all young people from being targeted based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge you to support and cosponsor SNDA and SSIA.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund:

Most importantly, as shown by the recent rash of suicides of bullied children across the nation, these bills are part of a comprehensive preventative strategy to ensure that youth survive the years they spend in school. No parent should ever again have to learn that their child has taken his or her life due to bullying and harassment from a peer that was entirely preventable.

SNDA and SSIA will assist in creating a welcoming environment for all students and ensure that children are able to focus on education, rather than merely survival. Once enacted, these protections will help create a better educated, more productive population, able to contribute fully to the general welfare of our nation. Again, we urge you to support SNDA (S. 1088/ H.R. 1652) and SSIA (S. 403/H.R. 1199) as a co-sponsor of this essential legislation.

PACER Center:

PACER is working to create a paradigm shift in society’s views about bullying. Instead of seeing bullying as an accepted behavior and a natural part of childhood, we need to understand that bullying has a significant impact on the lives of children, especially those with disabilities. Children with disabilities are already so often vulnerable and when they are being bullied, their vulnerability magnifies. This can lead to additional challenges to learning in school, including fear of going to school, social isolation, and physical and emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, and lack of self-worth.

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN):

Today is GLSEN’s annual Day of Silence. Hundreds of thousands of students across the United States have taken a vow of silence for the day to draw attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools – behavior that we know has serious consequences. Eight in ten lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, and nearly two-thirds harassed because of their gender expression. Such harassment has detrimental impacts on students’ long-term social, academic, psychological and physical well-being, including increased rates of absenteeism and depression and lower grade point averages and educational aspirations.

To most effectively address bullying, harassment and discrimination, it’s essential to have effective laws in place. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would empower states to develop anti-bullying laws that best meet their needs, so long as those laws meet basic, fact-based criteria to ensure their effectiveness, including the enumeration of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and religion. The legislation would also streamline data collection on bullying and harassment to help states better address the issue. The Student Non-Discrimination Act would ensure that LGBT students can no longer be discriminated against in public school simply for being who they are.

Here are some of our earlier participants – more support for safe schools. And here's a look at all twenty-eight of us – together.

It's important, though, to recognize that safe schools advocacy is not just about one day or one month – it's a long-term commitment to change.

PFAW has released a policy toolkit, Education Without Discrimination: Creating Safe Schools for All Students, designed to help activists understand and address the problem head-on. We hope that you'll use it to continue your own work on this important issue in the weeks and months to come.

We also hope that you'll check out PFAW's report on Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids and its 2012 update.

PFAW

African American Ministers in Action Featured This Week in Safe Schools Letter Campaign

The letter-a-day campaign for safe schools that PFAW is leading just finished another week, and now twenty groups have gone on record with Congress in support of safe schools legislation. Together, we are sending loud and clear the message that all students deserve far better than what they're getting when it comes to bullying and harassment in schools.

PFAW's own African American Ministers in Action was one of this week's highlights.

As clergy we will continue to learn and grow in our work for civil and human rights for all because of critical needs that have risen with the increase of cyberbullying and being bullied on school property. When young people come to our places of worship, they walk into a sanctuary, a safe place. This is what we should cooperatively be striving for in our schools.

We encourage you to be a partner in stopping abhorrent behavior that prevents victimized students from accessing quality education. All children deserve far better than that. Can we count on your support and cosponsorship? Your consideration of SSIA and SNDA, including as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), is necessary and appreciated.

Below are excerpts from the rest of this week's letters.

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers:

CenterLink represents 149 centers in 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, supporting the heart and soul of the LGBT movement. LGBT community centers work more closely with their LGBT constituency and engage more community leaders and decision-makers than any other LGBT network in the country. It is these community centers that often serve as the first line of defense against harassment and bullying of LGBT youth, and it these centers that see the devastating impact of these acts on our country’s students . . . It is our responsibility to ensure that all students have access to quality education without fear of harassment and discrimination. We strongly encourage you to support and co-sponsor the SSIA and the SNDA.

Keshet:

Since the campaign launched, more than 11,000 individuals and 1,000 Jewish organizations have signed on, making a public commitment to stand up against demeaning or bullying treatment of anyone due to real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. We ask for members of our government to make their own commitment to protecting students from bullying within schools by taking action in Congress.

There is a Jewish concept known as . . . Tikkun Olam, which translates to an obligation to repair and heal the world. While term might be rooted in Jewish text and tradition, the concept is universal. Please stand with the Jewish community and Keshet and help repair the world by protecting our students.

Robert F. Kennedy Center:

Bullying is, at its core, a human rights violation. It is the abuse of the powerless at the hands of the powerful, and it is a threat against the right to receive an education free from persecution. According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 28% of youth age 12-18 report being bullied in the past year. The effects of bullying are serious and long-lasting and affect both academic achievement as well as mental and physical health long after the bullying has stopped.

Gay-Straight Alliance Network:

On behalf of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, we write today to urge you to support two critically important bills: The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) (H.R. 1199 / S. 403) and Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 1652 / S. 555). GSA Network is a national organization that operates a national association of 39 statewide organizations serving Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in more than 3,000 schools across the country[.] Tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight ally youth participate in GSA clubs each year, and work to make schools safer.

Together these bills represent the first Federal definition of bullying and harassment, a necessary step to helping school districts, administrators and educators prevent, identify and address incidents of bullying and harassment. In the United States, 63.5% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 43.9% because of how they express their gender. 81.9% of LGBT students were verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation and 63.9% because of their gender expression. 55.2% of LGBT students were harassed or threatened by their peers via electronic mediums, often referred to as cyber bullying.

National Association of Secondary School Principals:

NASSP believes that learning occurs best in a supportive, inviting, orderly, and personalized school setting, where students are safe and feel free from theft, threats, intimidation, bullying, weapons, drugs, or violence of any type. Principals accept that their first responsibility is to foster such a climate, and the public continues to confirm that priority. NASSP believes that school leaders and staff members, along with community members and leaders, have a shared responsibility to ensure that schools are safe and orderly. Trusting relationships in school are the most effective means of ensuring school safety.

Log Cabin Republicans:

For too long a national inattention to bullying has left America’s LGBT youth particularly exposed to extremely high rates of harassment and assault. According to the 2011 National School Climate Survey, over 81.9% of LGBT students experienced verbal harassment, over four in ten were physically harassed, and over one in five suffered physical assault based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Many in Congress recognize the reality that faces our nation’s youth and the positive impact of anti-bullying laws, which is why they have taken steps to prevent bullying in our nation’s schools. By becoming the next co-sponsor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), you, too, can help American children.

Transgender Law Center:

No administrator, teacher or school staff would be able to be silent when a student is being bullied or harassed because of his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The SNDA makes school districts responsible for preparing staff to deal with bullying and harassment of LGBT youth or those perceived to be LGBT.

Here are some of our earlier participants – more support for safe schools.

With one week to go, PFAW will continue to update you as we approach this year's Day of Silence – an annual event organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that is meant to draw attention to the "silencing effects" of anti-gay harassment and name-calling in schools and to be a way for students to show their solidarity with students who have been bullied.

PFAW has released a new policy toolkit, Education Without Discrimination: Creating Safe Schools for All Students.

Please also check out PFAW's report on Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids and its 2012 update.

PFAW

Fair Housing for LGBT People Rejected in Louisiana

On March 31, the day before the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) marked the beginning of Fair Housing Month, Louisiana lawmakers said "no" to affording greater protections for LGBT people under state housing discrimination law.

Under current law, Louisiana protects the ability "to compete for available housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis, regardless of race, color, religion, [and] sex." House Bill 804, introduced by Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans, would have added to the list protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.

Unfortunately, Monday's House committee vote ended in a 13-5 defeat of Representative Brossett's bill.

Equality Louisiana has shown that Louisianans strongly support on the side of housing fairness:

Equality Louisiana polls shows 93.7% oppose LGBT housing discrimination

But the opposition didn't miss a beat. The Times-Picayune's Laura McGaughy reported:

Kathleen Benfield, from the conservative Christian organization the American Family Association of New Orleans, also testified against the bill on behalf of the Louisiana Family Forum's Gene Mills, who she said could not make the hearing.

She said the issue presented by the bill was "to protect certain sexual practices outside of marriage" and said this isn't a civil rights issue since sexual identity and gender expression are not "immutable" like race and "can change over time." She also said Brossett didn't present proof that homosexuals are being discriminated against in Louisiana.

"In my opinion, this legislation is a solution in search of a problem -- that there is not a problem," said Benfield.

Right Wing Watch has more on the American Family Association.

In other news on the fight for LGBT equality, Illinois moves toward banning sexual orientation conversion therapy while Minnesota falters on that front, and marriage equality developments continue to unfold in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Check out PFAW’s website for more LGBT equality updates.

PFAW

Safe Schools Letter Campaign Wraps Another Week, Twelve Groups Have Gone on Record

The letter-a-day campaign for safe schools that PFAW is leading just finished another week, and now twelve groups have gone on record with Congress in support of safe schools legislation. Together, we are sending loud and clear the message that all students deserve far better than what they're getting when it comes to bullying and harassment in schools.

Below are excerpts from this week's letters.

Family Equality Council:

America has a rich tradition of valuing education and protecting and nurturing children through the educational process. Children with LGBT parents should not grow up feeling that their country does not value their success or the legitimacy of their parents and their families. We must ensure that all children have the same opportunity to thrive – which requires that they feel safe, supported and valued in school. Students experiencing harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or because they have LGBT parents are deprived of equal educational opportunities and are too often left with few or no avenues for recourse.

The Trevor Project:

In honor of next month's Day of Silence highlighting anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools, and on behalf of the more than one hundred thousand lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth served annually by The Trevor Project’s life-saving programming, we write in strong support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA, H.R. 1199 & S. 403). We thank the 226 bipartisan House and Senate cosponsors of this critical bill for addressing what has become a pervasive national problem, and we urge all members of Congress to join them.

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund:

We urge you to support SSIA in response to increasing reports of harassment and violence faced by Sikh American students in schools. Consider the experience of Akashdeep Singh Ahluwalia, an eleven year-old Sikh American from New Jersey. Like many Sikh American students, who keep their articles of faith, he was bullied. Akashdeep was bullied so often that he had to change schools. When asked how he feels about the harassment he continues to face he responded, “It really depresses me. But in the end what can I do?”

American Association of University Women:

In addition to requiring policies prohibiting bullying and harassment, effective complaint procedures, and information sharing in current reporting systems, SSIA also provides opportunities for professional development to prevent bullying and harassment and student education programs. This is a critically important bill that will make a real difference in the lives of ALL students nationwide. That is why this bill is supported by over 110 leading national organizations in the fields of education, health, youth development, civil rights and religion.

PFLAG National:

Specifically, today’s letter to you involves three bills: [t]he Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), [t]he Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and [the] Every Child Deserves a Family [Act] (ECDF).

PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization.  It is comprised of parents, families, friends and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT)[,] and has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and town and rural areas in all 50 states.

PFLAG’s values are America’s values.  We believe that the welfare, safety and well-being of our children, all of our children, is an American value with a high priority that merits your attention.

Here are some of our earlier participants – more support for safe schools.

PFAW will continue to update you as we approach April 11, this year's Day of Silence – an annual event organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that is meant to draw attention to the "silencing effects" of anti-gay harassment and name-calling in schools and to be a way for students to show their solidarity with students who have been bullied.

Just today we released a new policy toolkit, Education Without Discrimination: Creating Safe Schools for All Students.

Please also check out PFAW's report on Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids and its 2012 update.

PFAW

Texas Republican Highlights How GOP Should Face the Changing Electorate

In the famously red state of Texas, Republican state legislator Jason Villalba of Dallas last week offered a frank assessment of the crossroads at which his party finds itself.

[T]he time has come closer when we will see the sleeping giant [of the Hispanic electorate] awaken and it will make a tremendous difference in our ability to win elections if we cannot win the votes of our fellow Hispanics.

Even as the country rapidly becomes more diverse, the GOP has clung to its strategy of alienating Latinos, African Americans, women, and LGBT people with an endless barrage of outrageous statements and discriminatory policies.

As some Republican leaders, like Villalba in Texas, are noting, this tactic isn’t good for the GOP. Demographic changes, though small on the surface, could have major political impacts, particularly in swing states, that will make it harder and harder for Republicans to win important elections.

In Texas alone, analysts are projecting a two percent increase in the Latino electorate for the 2016 election cycle compared to 2012. That kind of increase is still relatively minor in Texas, but a similar shift could make a crucial difference in swing states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada. As GOP pollster Whit Ayres notes

Changing the demographics of the state by two percentage points puts a finger on the scale in each of the swing states for the party that’s doing well among Hispanics. This underscores the critical importance for Republican candidates to do better among nonwhite Americans, particularly among Hispanics, if Republicans ever hope to elect another president.

Some far right activists argue that the GOP can win by increasing its share of the white vote, but the numbers don’t bear that out. As Resurgent Republic noted, “every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18.” Without appealing to those voters, Republicans face a steep climb to victory in any national race—and a quick journey to minority party status.

No wonder the party is so fond of strict voter ID laws, restricted early voting opportunities, and proof of citizenship laws to deter certain people from coming out to vote.

PFAW

‘Right to Discriminate’ Bills, Meet Hobby Lobby

Last month, as Arizona governor Jan Brewer deliberated whether to sign or veto a law that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, the public outcry was immense. Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain shared their opposition via Twitter. Companies including American Airlines, Apple, and AT&T urged a veto. Multiple state senators who had voted for SB 1062 asked Gov. Brewer to veto it. When she did, advocacy groups praised the decision and many in Arizona and across the country breathed a well-deserved sigh of relief.

But it turns out that sigh may have been premature.

This morning the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a case that, on its face, appears to be dealing with a different issue – women’s access to contraception – but in fact grapples with some of the same core issues in play with “right to discriminate” bills like Arizona’s. In the Hobby Lobby case, as in its companion case Conestoga Wood Specialities v. Sebelius, corporations are trying to avoid complying with the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. But both the Supreme Court cases and the “right to discriminate” bills address the question of whether for-profit corporations have religious rights and can use those “rights” in a way that brings harm to others. 

Comparing the vetoed Arizona bill to efforts to let companies deny covering contraception, National Women’s Law Center vice president Emily Martin put it like this: “What you’re seeing in both cases are corporations asserting the right to break the law in the name of religion, even if it results in harm and discrimination for third parties.” And The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin noted,

Indeed, a victory for Hobby Lobby might bring in an Arizona-style rule through the back door….The Arizona law and the Hobby Lobby case represent two sides of the same coin. Both assert that the invocation of a religious belief allows a company to opt out of a government requirement that applies to everyone else.

But corporations have never had religious rights, and as affiliate PFAW Foundation senior fellow Jamie Raskin wrote in a recent report, that concept is simply “absurd.”

[I]t is time for the Court to restore some reality to the conversation.  Business corporations do not belong to religions and they do not worship God.  We do not protect anyone’s religious free exercise rights by denying millions of women workers access to contraception.

PFAW