Michigan Bishops Spend $240,000+ to Stop LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Effort

The Michigan Catholic Conference has funded an organization that is opposing efforts in that state to protect LGBTQ persons from discrimination.

A finance report from Citizens for Equality, Fairness, and Justice, an organization formed to oppose LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, reveals that the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) gave the group nearly $240,000 in donations. The Conference’s donations are the largest of the quarter compared to smaller ones of $1,000 to $3,000 

Citizens for Equality, Fairness, and Justice has been opposing Fair and Equal Michigan, a campaign working to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity within the state. Michigan Advance reported that the campaign’s petition aims to “amend the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to expand anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ residents.”

A spokesperson for Fair and Equal Michigan, Josh Hovey, said:

“‘The Catholic Church’s opposition to LGBTQ equal rights is unfortunate, but it was not unexpected. It is well known that they have been out of touch with the majority of voters in Michigan and across the country on this issue, and that we are thankful that campaign finance disclosure laws make their anti-equality position known to all.'”

He continued:

“‘At the end of the day, what opponents to our initiative are asking for is to continue being able to use religion as a license to discriminate. We believe very strongly that is wrong, and we are confident that not only are the vast majority of voters in agreement with us but also that if a vote was held in the legislature today, we could amend Elliott-Larsen to protect LGBTQ people immediately.'”

David Maluchnik, vice president of communication for MCC, released a statement detailing the conference’s opposition to Fair and Equal Michigan. The statement reads, in part:

“The Fair and Equal Michigan proposal includes an unprecedented and likely unconstitutional provision to define religion only as a person’s individual beliefs and would restrict the ability for religious organizations to provide humanitarian aid and social services in the public square. The proposal would have a crushing impact on the poor of Michigan by harming many Catholic and Christian, Muslim, and Jewish organizations who daily and outwardly express their faith as a way of life out of love for their neighbor.”

The Michigan Catholic Conference believes that if this proposal became law, “it would only be a matter of time before litigation and public relations campaigns were to begin against religiously-based charitable and humanitarian aid.”

Josh Hovey asserts that the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act “already provides exemptions for religious institutions” and that the language does not change if the proposal is adopted.

A state board rejected Fair and Equal Michigan’s petition to include the amendment on the ballot for the 2022 election. The board claimed that the petition had invalid signatures. Fair and Equal Michigan is now planning to appeal the state board’s petition rejection.

Like Hovey, LGBTQ Catholics may not be surprised by the actions of the Michigan Catholic Conference. However, the harm continues when Catholic organizations claim to recognize human dignity while they actively work to silence and shame LGBTQ persons. If MCC truly recognizes the dignity of all persons and worries about caring for the poor, then it must also recognize LGBTQ persons as a group disproportionately impacted by poverty and related injustices.

–Elise Dubravec, August 5, 2021

7 replies
    DON E SIEGAL says:

    Michigan Bishops Spend $240,000+ to Stop LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Effort

    From their website, it is not clear exactly who the Michigan Catholic Conference is. It appears to be more of an advocacy group for conservative Catholic Causes rather than an official state organization of Catholic Bishops.

    Be that as it may, it is still a sorry state of affairs when a Catholic organization promotes discrimination against an already marginalized group of its own members. It brought to my mind the first reading from Jeremiah for the sixteenth Sunday of ordinary time several weeks back. Jeremiah warns the shepherds that are misleading the flock and driving the sheep away. The Lord promises that he will gather them all back, none shall be missing, and provide them with comfort.

    There is no such thing as “just” discrimination!

    • Peter Mueller
      Peter Mueller says:

      I dug into this more, the Board of Directors are the Bishops in Michigan with 5 lay people, one priest, and one religious sister. This is about as official as it can get. What I can’t find is their source of funding. If anyone can find that I would appreciate it, because I do not want to support funding this organization.

  2. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Using nearly a quarter million dollars in such an effort is a sin. Tell me that money could not have helped the hungry, the homeless, and the soon to be evicted in Michigan. This sin is not confined to Michigan. The Archdiocese of New York spent about $5 million on lobbyists to fight legislation to stop discrimination againt LGBT persons. This is shameful and wrong.

  3. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Well isn’t this good news? If the Michigan diocese has this much money to hatefully waste on anti-LGBT efforts, then they must have ended hunger, solved health needs, support care for prisoners, fully developed education systems, and any needs of the poor. I don’t recall Jesus preaching in support of any form of discrimination, but this diocese must have special insight to a side of God’s love hidden for 2000 years. Better living through hate preaching – how did that work for Nazi’s? Jesus wept.

  4. Tony Spence
    Tony Spence says:

    The MCC spokesman fails to state why the religious exemption in Elliot-Larsen is insufficient to protect church interests from their perceived travails. This strikes me as a case of fear of future litigation is the main driver of the opposition, but I suspect it is more basic — plain, old bigotry. But don’t discount the money. Sounds more like the lawyers, not the pastors, are the MCC’s chief advisors here.


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