Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Fights Obama's Birth Control Mandate in New York
Uproar over Barack Obama's Health and Human Services mandate, which basically requires that insurers provide contraception, has hardly come to an end, and a major pro-religion advocacy group has taken the battle against the birth control clause to court.
This law firm, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is also hosting a rally today at the Federal Hall National Memorial, located at 26 Wall Street.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization has organized before upcoming arguments over Obamacare in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Present at today's rally, which Runnin' Scared unforunately could not attend, kinda appears to be a who's who of some key pro-lifers: Dr. Alveda King, Director of African-American Outreach, Priests for Life; Melissa Moschella, Fellow, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Janet Morana, Silent No More Awareness Campaign; Fr. Agustino Torres, Franciscan Friars; Chris Slattery, Expectant Mother Care; Msgr. Philip Reilly, Helpers of God's Precious Infants; Fernando Cabrera, New York City Councilman; Chris Bell, Good Counsel Homes; Dr. Anne Nolte, The Gianna Center for Women's Health; Fr. Victor Salomon, Sacerdotes por la Vida.
The fund, which is spearheading the charge against the HHS mandate (leaders say they were the first to engage in court action against it, in fact) claims to rep all religions and be non-partisan, however.
From the group's mission statement (and confirmed by an agency spokeswoman):
At the Becket Fund we like to say we've defended the religious rights of people from 'A to Z,' from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. Our supporters represent a myriad of religions, but they all share our common vision of a world where religious freedom is respected as a fundamental human right that all are entitled to enjoy and exercise.
Emily Hardman, the legal fund's spokeswoman, told Runnin' Scared that Becket isn't advocating against HHS to support a particular belief system -- she says that the opposition is because: "It's a defense of religious liberty. The HHS mandate would require religious groups to pay for things they find morally unconscionable."
Asked whether Obama's compromise -- basically that insurance companies, not businesses, have to provide free birth control coverage -- addressed these groups' concerns, she replied: "Over 500 leading religious scholars on both sides on the aisle came out and said this is unacceptable, that this is no compromise at all."
Today's demo boosts several of Becket's new lawsuits against the mandate.
These filings represent a steep shift in course for Becket, which has long been known as a pro-bono legal powerhouse working quietly in defense of liberty.
In the past, Becket would wait for the right cases, such as a Buddhist temple's fight with a zoning board or Sikhs' right to wear turbans in school. But some, like Jon Ward, say the group's recent move evidences new willingness to jump head first into the bourgeoning culture wars.
Becket recently won EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor, which established a "ministerial exception" to workplace anti-discrimination laws.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.