The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed their appreciation for a new Trump administration rule that would allow federally-funded social service service providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued the final rule last week that reverses non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, as well as sex and religion implemented under President Barack Obama. In response, three chairs of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees issued a joint statement supporting the new rule allowing discrimination. They wrote, in part:
“It is a sad reality that state and local government agencies in multiple jurisdictions have already succeeded in shutting down Catholic adoption and foster care providers who operate in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. With over 400,000 children in foster care, we need to work together to take steps to increase – not decrease – opportunities for children to be placed with safe and loving families. We appreciate the finalization of these rule modifications.”
The chairs who signed were Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
This new rule comes in the Trump administration’s final week, though it will not go into effect until February 11th, and is targeted at faith-based agencies which provide adoption and foster care services. But NBC reported:
“Critics claim the new guidance could have wide-ranging implications for agencies that address adoption and foster-parenting, as well as homelessness, HIV prevention, elder care and other public services. . .
“According to [Julie] Kruse [of Family Equality], Tuesday’s final rule could also allow a homeless shelter to turn away a queer teen and a senior center to refuse to drive an elderly gay man to his doctor’s appointment. She’s confident it will be overturned by the incoming Biden administration, calling it a ‘nasty parting shot that won’t stand.’ But she admits ‘it does clog up the works; it does delay protections.'”
President-elect Joe Biden has already committed to overturning this new rule and reimplement non-discriminations for LGBTQ people.
The rule strikes at the heart of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, which centers on whether a Catholic adoption and foster care provider must abide by LGBTQ non-discrimination protections in order to receive public funding. The USCCB has already expressed its support for the Catholic social service agency in this case seeking the right to discriminate.
The bishops’ issuing this statement misrepresent the facts when it comes to religious providers of adoption and foster care services. When Catholic agencies have stopped providing such services over non-discrimination protections related to sexual orientation and gender identity, as they have done in the Archdioceses of Boston and Washington among others, it has been a free choice. No government entity has forced them to close, only the bishops’ prioritizing the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ people over the interests of vulnerable children.
It is sad, but not surprising that as the Trump administration uses its final days to further discrimination, the bishops continue to cheer it along.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 19, 2020