Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Being Frank about Indiana's Hobby Lobby bill

When is my business any of your business?
That question could be partially settled by legislation before the Indiana General Assembly.
Nineteen states have passed legislation that will potentially protect business owners from interference by government. Ryan McCann of Indiana Family Institute hopes to make Indiana Number 20.
I heard him speak recently about the so-called Hobby Lobby bill now before the Indiana Senate and expected to be introduced in the Indiana House in March.
The bill was prompted by the Hobby Lobby store chain's lawsuit that went to the U.S.Supreme Court. The company's owners won but they shouldn't have had to go to that trouble and legal expense. The bill would increase the burden placed on government to prove the court should force a business owner to to take action that violates his beliefs. It would potentially give business owners more religious liberty than they now enjoy in Indiana.
The issue was Obama care. Hobby Lobby is owned by a family of Christians. They didn't like the idea of being forced by the government to pay for employees' health insurance that contained provisions for abortion.
Hobby Lobby won in the U.S. Supreme Court but at tremendous expense for the legal fight.
When is my business your business?
That is the real struggle and it affects so many things in our country from who a businessman has to serve at his restaurant to wheelchair ramps on church buildings to your responsibility for my safety if I get injured while visiting your home.
It's easy to say, "Everyone should be responsible for themselves and if you don't like what your employer does, get another job."
Certainly Hobby Lobby was right to say they want nothing to do with your choice to have sex and then seek an abortion. People have freedom to worship but that doesn't mean your church should be forced to install a wheelchair ramp or make rest rooms handicapped accessible. I know church members who have discussed those issues. And if you get hurt while visiting me, maybe you shouldn't have come over in the first place.
The real question seems to be, what constitutes a public place and what is private?
Just because my business is open to the public should not mean I have the same responsibility as the government for a courthouse or a city hall or a public school.
If you don't like the way I run my business, you are free to shop elsewhere. But I have rights too.
I hope Indiana does pass a bill to protect the rights of business owners.

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Brazil Times.