Catholics have continued to welcome the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week that endorses non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in federal law. To read earlier reactions, click here.
The editors of America welcomed the court’s decision as a “good one,” affirming that no one should be fired for being LGBTQ. The editorial recognized the further issues regarding religious employers, but challenged church leaders on whether and how far they would pursue a right to discriminate:
“Should the court decide to carve out such an exception [for religious employers to fire LGBTQ employees], however, it does not necessarily follow that religious institutions should avail themselves of it. As we noted in 2016, ‘the high public profile of these firings [of L.G.B.T. employees who choose to marry], when combined with a lack of due process and the absence of any comparable policing of marital status for heterosexual employees, also constitute signs of “unjust discrimination.”‘
“As with the Obergefell decision, this ruling also affords the church an opportunity to reimagine its public witness. The vocation of Catholics is to exercise moral suasion to influence the opinion of the citizens of the United States. There is little chance of success if we go about this work with the ‘culture warrior’ attitude of so many politicians and public figures over the past decades.”
Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, issued a statement supporting the court’s decision, saying discrimination against LGBTQ people “is a form of violence that must be actively opposed by Catholics.” Executive Director Johnny Zokovitch commented:
“The Supreme Court has taken a major step forward, but Catholics must continue to work against other forms of discrimination in areas like housing and social services, and to do so conscious that the scourges of coronavirus and racism still wound our communities. Today’s victory is just the next step for our members’ nonviolent pursuit of justice.”
Robert Shine, Pax Christi USA’s National Council chair, added:
“I remember today as I celebrate the transgender women of color, like Marsha Johnson, whose protests made today’s victory possible. Pax Christi USA remains dedicated to pursuing justice in an intersectional way demanded by our faith, which uncompromisingly states that LGBTQ people’s dignity must be respected and that Black Lives Matter.”
Mary Hunt, a lesbian Catholic theologian who heads the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) told Crux:
“‘Where I think a lot of Catholic institutions and dioceses have been struggling with some of these issues,’ she said, is with a ‘widespread reluctance to fire someone merely for being gay or lesbian. But then the cases where you’ve seen the institutions taking action, for example, is if a religious ed teacher enters into a same-sex marriage and the institution feels it compromises its ability to witness to the faith in that context,’ citing recent cases in the Archdioceses of Indianapolis and Philadelphia.”
The Crux article also cited theologian Lisa Fullam’s commentary in Bondings 2.0 about the need for Catholic leaders to revisit their stance regarding LGBTQ civil rights. To read Fullam’s piece, click here.
Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK described the ruling as a “landmark moment,” and continued, per Crux:
“‘But the struggle for equality isn’t over. . .LGBTQ+ people, especially LGBTQ+ people of color, cannot access housing, health care, and more. The Senate must pass the Equality Act to address systemic discrimination LGBTQ+ people face every day.'”
Crux also noted that a number of Catholic colleges and universities welcomed the court’s decision, including Regis University in Denver, CO, which tweeted it was “gratified that protecting the dignity and humanity of our LGBTQ+ family members is now the law of the land.”
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, June 23, 2020