The U.S. bishops have voiced their opposition to a new executive order signed by President Joe Biden to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
The order, issued January 20th, enforces the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, in which Title VII protections against discrimination on the basis of sex were ruled to include gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as other LGBTQ protections in federal law. The Biden administration also acknowledged “overlapping forms of discrimination,” such as the “unconscionable” rates of such discrimination that transgender Black people in the U.S. experience.
In response, chairs of several U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees issued a joint statement criticizing the Biden administration’s executive order. The statement claims the bishops “share the goal” of ending “unjust discrimination,” but “regret the misguided approach” of the order. They continue, after criticizing the Bostock decision, too:
“Wednesday’s executive order on ‘sex’ discrimination exceeds the Court’s decision. It threatens to infringe the rights of people who recognize the truth of sexual difference or who uphold the institution of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. This may manifest in mandates that, for example, erode health care conscience rights or needed and time-honored sex-specific spaces and activities. In addition, the Court had taken care to note that Bostock did not address its clear implications for religious freedom. Yesterday’s executive order exercises no such caution.”
It is notable, however, that the bishops commended the Biden administration for its actions on immigration, climate, and racial justice. But their support was undercut by the following line:
“It is unfortunate that the goal of racial equality is partially conflated with the imposition of new attitudes and false theories on human sexuality which can produce social harms.”
The bishop signatories 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; Bishop Michael Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chair of the Committee on Catholic Education; Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; and Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
In contrast, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, welcomed the executive order, commenting to the National Catholic Reporter:
“‘The bishops’ comments on Bostock indicate that they would want Catholic teaching on gender and sexuality to be the law of the land. . .even if those views differ from the majority of people in the nation — not to mention the views of the majority of U.S. Catholics.”
Bondings 2.0 has previously reported on the USCCB’s ongoing support for the former Trump administration’s targeted efforts to end federal protections for the LGBTQ community in healthcare, in adoption and foster care services, and elsewhere.
President Biden also recently repealed the ban on transgender members of the military. When the Trump administration instituted the ban in 2017, the head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA said it did not go far enough because the real problem with transgender troops was not military readiness or morale, but because “[G]ender ideology undermines basic Christian anthropology by defining the person as a disembodied mind and the body as a mere instrument.” So far, the bishops have been silent on Biden’s recent removal of the ban.
—Brian William Kaufman and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 27, 2021