Since 2010, we have been monitoring Kentucky’s involvement with Ark Encounter, a proposed theme park that will feature a 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark.
Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nichole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Act provides vouchers to special-needs students for use at private schools. Virtually all of the participating private schools are religious, and these schools can and do discriminate on the basis of religion in admissions.
In Texas, nonprofit organizations may apply to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have custom license plate designs made available to the public. The law, however, permits the DMV to “refuse to create a new specialty plate if the design might be offensive to any member of the public.”
In August 2009, the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans submitted a custom license plate design to the DMV. The design featured the organization’s logo—a Confederate flag, framed by the organization’s name.
Abercrombie & Fitch clothing stores require employees to adhere to a “look policy,” calculated to showcase the store’s aesthetic sensibility. Among other things, the policy requires that employees abstain from wearing “caps” while working.
In 2008, a Muslim woman applied for a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch’s store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her faith requires her to wear a hijab—a traditional Muslim headscarf.
The City of Warren, Michigan, holds the atrium in its city hall open to public use. A local church takes advantage of this policy to maintain a “prayer station” in the atrium staffed by volunteers.
Douglas Marshall, a resident of Warren who self-identifies as an atheist, attempted to express his own beliefs in a comparable manner by applying to set up a “reason station,” where he intended to distribute literature and engage in discussion with willing passersby.
In 2012, a same-sex couple asked Masterpiece Cakeshop to bake a cake for their wedding. The bakery's owner refused, citing his religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. The couple then filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under the state’s public accommodations law, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
An administrative law judge held that the shop owner had indeed violated the law, and the shop owner appealed that ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Alabama banned same-sex couples from getting married. Several same-sex couples challenged Alabama’s marriage bans in federal court; in January 2015, the federal trial court ruled that Alabama's marriage ban is unconstitutional and forbade the state's attorney general from enforcing the ban.
Under normal circumstances, this would have sufficed to bring marriage equality to the state.
In 2013, the North Carolina legislature enacted the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides taxpayer-funded vouchers for students to attend private schools. More than three quarters of the schools attended by students receiving the vouchers are religious.
In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a Florida school-voucher program because it violated the state constitution. While that case was still working its way through the courts, the state legislature enacted a second program designed to accomplish the same ends through tax credits.
As part of the Affordable Care Act's implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Houses of worship are exempt from these requirements, and the Department of Health and Human Services later created a broader accommodation for certain nonprofit organizations.