LAYTON -- An arts and crafts national chain, which has a retail store in Layton, has filed a lawsuit in an Oklahoma court opposing federal "Obamacare" mandates forcing the business to provide employees, without co-pay, the controversial "morning after pill" and "week after pill" or face fines of $1.3 million per day.
Hobby Lobby, based on its "Biblical founding," filed the lawsuit this month against President Barack Obama's health service mandates in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
The court action has the support of Layton Mayor Steve Curtis, who says the case shares similarities with the recent incident involving Chick-fil-A, when its owner spoke of his support for traditional families and was met with criticism from proponents of same-sex marriage.
"I'm a man of principle myself. I would commend anybody that stays true to their values," Curtis said of his support for Hobby Lobby.
The retail chain, with headquarters in Oklahoma City, Okla., has 514 stores in 41 states, including a store in Layton at 1080 N. Main St.
"By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow," Hobby Lobby CEO and founder David Green said in a prepared statement.
"We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this (Health and Human Services) mandate," Green said.
Hobby Lobby is the largest and only non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the mandate, focusing sharp criticism on the Obama administration's regulation that forces all companies, regardless of religious conviction, to cover abortion-inducing drugs, according to a statement issued through The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the store's legal counsel.
"Washington politicians cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living," said Lori Windham, senior counsel for The Beckett Fund, a Washington D.C. based nonprofit, public-interest law firm. The firm is dedicated to protecting the expression of religious traditions.
There are now 29 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"It is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured," Green said. "Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles."
This is not the first time a national chain with an outlet in Layton has been at the eye of a storm as a result of its Christian owners wanting to hold to their beliefs.
"It is a very similar situation to Chick-fil-A," Curtis said of those restaurants that came under fire by proponents of same-sex marriage.
Despite the criticism, which included some protests, Utahns turned out in droves to support the local Chick-fil-A franchises.
Curtis said he personally respects anyone who holds to their principles and he believes government needs to stay out of people's lives.
Hobby Lobby's filing of the lawsuit against the federal government, Curtis said, should have no negative impact on the Layton store.
"I think people understand that each of us have values," he said.
Forcing business owners who are religious to have to choose between their job and their faith is a violation of their Biblical beliefs.
"It is a choice no one should ever have to make," said Emily Hardman, communications director and an attorney with The Becket Fund.
Hobby Lobby ownership is not denying its employees the right to buy the pills, Hardman said. "They're just saying, 'We don't want to pay for it.'"
"People want to live according to their faith," said Hardman.
Link to the complaint http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Hobby-Lobby-Complai...