Protesters converged on the new Hobby Lobby store in Burbank yesterday for the second straight day. Picketers greeted customers at the parking lot entrance on North Victory Boulevard July 4th during the soft opening. This is the newest Southland store for the controversial national craft and home decor chain run by the evangelical Christian family of David Green.
Last Monday, Hobby Lobby won the right to deny employee insurance coverage for certain contraceptives, which the Green family feels violates its pro-life stance. They argued the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 gives them that right and the high court conservative majority agreed in a landmark 5-4 decision. Many believe, including some legal scholars, the supreme court majority erred when it decided a corporation, which is a fictional entity, has the religious rights of a person.
Ironically, the Hobby Lobby owners say such contraceptives as the “I-U-D” and the “morning after pill” go against their religious beliefs. However, the company’s employee retirement plan invests in firms, which produce these types of birth control. Also, Hobby Lobby’s employee health plan covers vasectomies. This is a contradiction or hypocritical position, which Hobby Lobby has yet to explain.
Saturday afternoon, 12-15 people spent several hours protesting the court decision and the retailer. “Hobby Lobby shouldn’t punish women for not choosing their (company owners’) religious beliefs,” said La Canada resident, Kristen Merlino-Guzmann.
Julia Gale of Toluca Lake stood boldly in front of Hobby Lobby’s door and handed out 15 percent discount coupons to Michaels, an arts and crafts competitor in the Burbank Empire Center. Gale said she “was really upset with the supreme court” for the Hobby Lobby ruling, which she feels will open the “flood gates for other companies” to discriminate on other grounds. Gale was later joined by Monika Wegener of Hollywood, who also believes the Hobby Lobby ruling sets a bad “legal precedent.”
Tomorrow, Hobby Lobby in Burbank reportedly will have its official grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony at around 1 p.m. Protesters are planning to demonstrate at the store on Monday as well.