Phoenix Diocese Opposes Non-Discrimination Expansion for LGBT Individuals

Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, AZ

The Diocese of Phoenix publicly announced on Monday its opposition to proposed expansions in that city’s non-discrimination laws to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under protected categories. On Tuesday, the Phoenix City Council approved the expansion in a 5-3 vote after a heated five-hour hearing that displayed the best and worst of Phoenicians, reported at AZcentral.com

A statement from the Diocese echoes the message that Catholic teaching opposes discrimination against LGBT individuals, but concerns over religious liberty lead the bishops to oppose basic civil protection. The statement was released to coincide with Phoenix City Council hearings yesterday afternoon on the proposed changes, with an expected vote that same day. LGBT advocates and supportive government officials do not seem to pay much attention to the Diocese’s remarks. AZcentral.com reports that a Catholic mayor is seeking LGBT non-discrimination protections:

“Mayor Greg Stanton has pushed to amend the ordinance to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. City law currently offers few such protections for gay residents.

“Stanton, who is Catholic, said he respects the Diocese’s position but believes the city has an obligation to provide protections for LGBT residents. He added that welcoming diversity has economic benefits for the city.

“The changes would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as restaurants and hotels. Businesses and individuals that don’t comply could be criminally prosecuted and face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $2,500 fine.”

It is hard to believe the bishops’ argument for religious liberty in the marriage equality debate when such arguments surface in any matter of advancing LGBT equality. The Diocese of Phoenix’s statement replaces Catholic understandings of human dignity with sexual ethics more appropriate to individual consciences and pastoral settings.  The statement puts any potential religious liberty conflict above protection of humans’ needs.

It is only a few generations removed from an era when Catholics, and the immigrant populations to which most belonged, suffered discrimination for their religious and ethnic identities. Legislation protecting individuals from discrimination based on anything, including sexual orientation or gender expression/identity, should always and everywhere be championed by the Catholic hierarchy. Persistent failures to endorse even the most basic LGBT-friendly legislation is isolating the bishops from fruitfully engaging on vital issues like poverty reduction and immigration reform where powerful Catholic voices for justice are sorely needed.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. medwards
    medwards says:

    Translation: We, the diocese believe LGBT persons are entitled to full human dignity, except when they get in our way and then we have the right to discriminate as a matter of church-state separation. We believe LGBT persons are children of God equal to anyone else, except they are intrinsically disordered and should not expect to enjoy equal legal protections of any kind, or teach in our schools, or live in our neighborhoods, or serve in our ministries, or take communion until they swear at the church door to live celibate lives. We don’t ask anyone else to declare their sexual affiliation at the door, but that is the way it is. We can declare these things, because we are stuffed to the Sistine ceiling with the Fullness of Truth, and anyone who disagrees does not enjoy a properly formed conscience. We are right because We say so, and We say so because We are right and that is why We rightly say so saying so because We are rightly right for saying so, enjoying the rightly rightness of saying so because We say so.

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