Keen News Service
EMPLOYMENT RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION: The U.S. Supreme Court this morning will hear oral arguments in two cases asking whether, under a religious exemption in the Affordable Care Act, employers can deny certain medical coverage by citing the religious objections of the companies’ owners. The companies bringing the challenges in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood v. HHS are not religious institutions. One is an arts and crafts store, the other is a furniture maker. Complicating matters, the owners of the Hobby Lobby stores also operate a Christian bookstore. Both sets of owners claim to have religious beliefs against the use of contraception. Neither case involves any LGBT-specific health coverage, but the decisions in both may affect whether employers will be able to cite religious beliefs to deny such services as alternative insemination and gender reassignment.
RELIGIOUS TRANSFORMATION: A multi-denominational Christian ministry, World Vision, announced Monday that, after several years of deliberation, its board of directors has voted to “adjust” the organization’s Employee Standards of Conduct policy “to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.” In an undated, unsigned two-page memo to employees, World Vision’s U.S. President Richard Stearns says, “I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage” and that the organization is not “sliding down some slippery slope of compromise.” “Each of us has his or her own views on a wide range of potentially divisive issues, and the board and I are not asking anyone to change their personal views. We are asking, rather, that you not let your differences on this issue or others distract us from our work.” The Religious News Service notes that World Vision U.S. is headquartered in Washington State, where voters voted for marriage equality in November 2012. World Vision identifies itself as a Christian humanitarian organization working to help children and families on issues of injustice and poverty.
JUGGLING AID TO UGANDA: A White House blog yesterday announced the U.S. was both sending aid to Uganda and “shifting” it away in response to the African nation’s enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The blog post came one day after the Washington Post reported that the U.S. would send additional military equipment and personnel to Uganda to help in the capture of a warload and his supporters who have brutally attacked many central African villages. The White House blog post characterized the move as simply basing the equipment in Uganda for deployment throughout central Africa. Acknowledging that “many” would have “concerns” about the delivery of aid to Uganda in light of the anti-gay laws, the post said the U.S. would take “immediate steps while we continue to consider the implications” of the anti-gay law. The steps include suspending or canceling “Certain near-term invitational travel for Ugandan military and police” and shifting $6 million of $8 million in funding for an Inter-Religious Council of Uganda HIV program to “other partners.”
NOMINEE NOTES GOP LINKS: President Obama’s new African American openly gay male nominee for the U.S. District Court in Miami notes on his requisite questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee was appointed to his state court positions by two of Florida’s Republican governors. In responding to his questionnaire to the Committee, Judge Darrin Gayles noted he was appointed to a Florida county circuit bench by then Governor Jeb Bush, and to a state circuit court seat by then Republican Governor Charlie Crist.