While the company Hobby Lobby triumphed at the U.S. Supreme Court in challenging Obamacare's contraceptive mandate on Monday, the Court does not seem to have flung open the floodgates for anti-LGBT discrimination as some had feared it might.
Instead, legal observers noted, the ultimate resolution has been left for another day on whether a private business could lawfully discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. But Justice Anthony Kennedy offered gay rights advocates a glimmer of hope on that front as well.
The Court ruled 5-4 that the government could not mandate "closely held" private companies with sincerely held religious beliefs, like Hobby Lobby, to cover certain kinds of birth control for their employees. That decision hinged in part on the religious freedom rights of a private corporation. Prior to the ruling, LGBT rights advocates had worried that a broad decision could open the doors for more anti-gay discrimination bills like the Arizona bill that stirred national debate earlier this year.
Based on initial readings of the Hobby Lobby decision, LGBT advocates seemed to have dodged a bullet. The Court's ruling, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, is explicitly narrow in effect. But some advocates worry that those pushing anti-LGBT bills will see an opening to introduce new bills and file new lawsuits to legitimize discrimination. Whether they'd win, though, is much less clear.
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