LGBTQ group protests new Hobby Lobby in SLO: ‘We strongly urge you to shop elsewhere’

David Middlecamp/dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com
·2 min read

Craft store chain Hobby Lobby is coming to town, but at least one Central Coast group is not happy about it.

On July 28, the Gala Pride and Diversity Center issued a statement saying it was “disappointed to hear that the SLO Promenade shopping center off Madonna Road in SLO will soon have Hobby Lobby as a tenant.”

Hobby Lobby confirmed it was opening a new San Luis Obispo location in the building formerly occupied by Forever 21 in early 2021. The business was originally expected to open by April, but it appeared to still be under construction as of Aug. 8.

Hobby Lobby has not announced a new opening date for the location, though signs have been posted around the shopping center alerting people to the new business.

Gala is calling for shoppers to avoid the business when it opens, saying Hobby Lobby has been “at the center of a number of anti-LGBTQ controversies that have resulted in regressive legislation,” as well as U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting access to birth control.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled Hobby Lobby and other “closely-held companies” did not have to pay for certain forms of birth control in employee health plans if they violated owners’ religious beliefs.

Opponents of the decision said it could pave the way for large, corporate businesses to discriminate against other groups on the basis of religious freedom, including members of the LGBTQ community.

In its statement, Gala noted that Hobby Lobby founder David Green and the Green family have “donated extraordinary amounts of money to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations” and been involved in a number of controversies through the years.

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice seized an ancient artifact from Hobby Lobby President Steve Green’s Museum of the Bible that had been illegally transported to the United States.

“We strongly urge you to shop elsewhere,” Gala said in an Instagram post sharing the statement, noting there are other craft stores in San Luis Obispo, including Art Central and Michaels, where people can buy art supplies.

“We should not put more money into the pockets of a family that actively seeks to eliminate the separation of church and state and to make discrimination the law of the land,” the organization said.

Gala did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on Monday.