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About 40 protest top court decision in front of Hobby Lobby in Toledo

By Mike Sigov, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 05--About 40 people took time from Independence Day activities on Friday to rally in West Toledo against the recent U.S. Supreme Court'sHobby Lobby decision.

Standing by the curb in front of the company's store at 5329 Monroe St., the protesters held up their placards and waved at passing motorists.

Earlier this week, the top court ruled that closely held businesses with religious objections can opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement to provide employees insurance coverage for birth control.

Many passing motorists honked as an apparent sign of support. Others just drove by. One woman, who did not honk, hung out the driver-side window and yelled, "I love Hobby Lobby!"

Among the placard-wielding protesters -- all but one adults -- a baby in a stroller stood out. Kaida Siler, 21 months, of Toledo held a placard that read, "Separation of church and state used to be an American value."

Her mother, Carrie Siler, 27, who stood nearby with her husband Scott Siler, 38, said she decided to take part in the protest when he told her it was the right thing to do

Mrs. Siler, a homemaker, held a sign, "Employers, Out of My Uterus!" The sign that her husband held read, "Want to prevent abortion? Fund birth control." The flip side of the placard said, "No corporation came from a uterus."

"I am very passionate about protesting here," Mr. Siler, a vehicle transporter, said. "Corporations already have too many rights. They've got more rights than my wife, or me, or you, or any average citizen. And that's just wrong, because if you do it this way it's not a democracy."

A manager at the store, which was open for business Friday, declined to comment and referred inquiries to a company spokesman who, when reached by phone, referred questions to Emily Hardman, the director of communications for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which she said is a legal group representing Hobby Lobby.

Ms. Hardman could not be reached.

Frank Hamp, 66, of Toledo, a retired parole officer, was paying at the register for a motorcycle plaque he was buying for his garage, when he witnessed the conversation between the Blade reporter and the store manager and volunteered his opinion on the issue.

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He said he was driving along Monroe Street when he saw the protesters and on the spot decided to stop at the Hobby Lobby and shop there to express his disagreement with the protesters and to show his support for the store.

"I disagree with the protesters because they exaggerated the issue and took it out of context," Mr. Hamp said. "They are pushing a political agenda that I don't agree with."

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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