In several U.S. states where local governments have taken up LGBTQ rights, the Catholic hierarchy is placing itself in opposition to equality. Today’s post features three related stories.
South Dakota Bishop Praise New Ban on Youth Gender Transitions
The South Dakota Catholic Conference has “praised the vote” in which state representatives approved a bill that makes it illegal for doctors to provide hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgery to minors. Angelus News reported that the bill makes it a misdemeanor for doctors to provide such services to minors under the age of 16. The bill now goes to the state senate. The Catholic Conference commented:
“With deep compassion for the experience of suffering that marks those with gender dysphoria, the Church firmly insists on the dignity of all human persons as created and loved by God, and further expresses special affection for the marginalized and suffering.”
“HB 1057 would ensure children, especially those experiencing distress concerning their sex, are given the chance to develop and grow in understanding the gift of their created nature”
Nebraska Catholic Conference Opposes Gender Neutral Markers, Multiple LGBTQ Bills
The Nebraska Catholic Conference has come out in opposition to every LGBTQ-related bill that state’s legislature is considering. For instance, a proposal that would allow gender neutral markers on identification cards is currently making it way through the state’s senate. Omaha Senator Megan Hunt spoke to the Norfolk Daily News about the bill, which she introduced:
“In order to live safe, full and authentic lives, it is essential that transgender people have access to identity documents such as photo identification and birth certificates that accurately reflect their name, gender identity and gender expression.”
But the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) held a different view, reported the Lincoln Star Journal:
“Marion Miner, with the Nebraska Catholic Conference, said the church has love, compassion and respect for those people who feel an incongruence between their biological sex and the gender with which they identify, but it also owes them the truth as the church believes it to be, with charity, respect and compassion.
“Not accepting the biological reality of their sex would be a lie, he said.”
According to the NCC’s website, the bishops also oppose Hunt’s initiaives to protect LGBTQ people in court proceedings, ban conversion therapy and classify it as child abuse, add “gender identity” to hate crime laws, and other non-discrimination protections. NCC has stated, according to the Omaha World Herald, that non-discrimination protections “discriminate against people of faith and divide our communities.”
Ohio Bishops Oppose Anti-LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
In Ohio, all of the state’s Catholic bishops signed a letter to the Ohio House of Representatives opposing a bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Ohio currently has no statewide protections, but many of the state’s cities have enacted protections at the local level, ACLU reported.
The letter, signed by the bishops of all six Ohio dioceses,was sent by the Catholic Conference of Ohio to all state representatives.. The letter states:
” […] HB 369 would negate and inappropriately redefine reasonable laws that currently protect the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Of major concern is the possibility that certain actions our Church takes regarding behaviors we view as immoral will be perceived and litigated as discriminatory. […]
“For example, ‘sexual orientation’ laws could force a Catholic school to retain a math teacher for obtaining a same-sex marriage because they do the same for those who obtain opposite-sex marriages.”
A common theme exists among these stances from the church hierarchy. Although church officials offer sympathy for those people who experience gender dysphoria, these same officials also express the opinion that transgender people’s “biological sex” overrides their identity. In other words, they believe that the physical composition of one’s body matters much more than one’s understanding and knowledge of self.
Furthermore, in Ohio, the hierarchy tries to make the case that their employees’ job security should come second to concerns that have nothing to do with their job. Catholic institutions firing LGBTQ employees is a well-documented problem, and one lay people and church officials have criticized. Such firings are the very discrimination from which new laws seek to protect LGBTQ citizens.
It is concerning and disappointing that church leaders in these states oppose protections for LGBTQ people. We hope and pray that they will come to understand the harm these stances do to people.
—Artemis Walsh, February 16, 2020