U.S. Bishops Misrepresent the Will of Catholics in Briefs for Supreme Court LGBT Employment Discrimination Cases

October 11, 2019, Boston, MA. Leaders of DignityUSA,  the organization of Catholics committed to justice, equality and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) persons in the church and society, are calling on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to withdraw or substantially revise the briefs they submitted in conjunction with three employment discrimination cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. The cases were brought on behalf of transgender, lesbian and gay individuals fired due to their identities, and seeks to clarify whether Title VII protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The briefs filed by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in these cases totally misrepresent the position of the strong majority of U.S. Catholics, who know it is wrong to fire employees because of who they are or whom they love,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA.

Duddy-Burke noted that Catholics have long been in the forefront of supporting employment protections for LGBTQI people. “Since at least the early 1990’s, dozens of polls have confirmed that majorities of Catholics believe LGBTQI people should have legal protections for employment, housing, military service, and public accommodations. Those numbers have increased steadily over the years.  Currently over 70% of American Catholics support fair employment for LGBTQI people,” she said, citing a March 2019 survey report from Public Religion Research Institute.

“It is misleading for the bishops not to acknowledge that their views on such an important civil rights issue are rejected by a significant majority of Catholics,” said Duddy-Burke. “It is clear that most American Catholics understand that our church’s longstanding teachings that all workers should be respected and should be protected from discrimination apply to LGBTQI people, as well as other protected groups. In light of this, DignityUSA believes the USCCB should withdraw or revise their amicus briefs to be clearer about the divide among believers on this issue.”

DignityUSA also submitted amicus briefs on these cases, citing its experience working with hundreds of employees already terminated on the basis of religious objections to their identity or relationship status. DignityUSA’s briefs noted that these individuals, their spouses, and their families suffered due to loss of income, loss of health insurance and other benefits, social stigma, and the pressures of trying to live within the requirements of nondisclosure agreements they were often forced to sign. “It is vitally important to anyone who identifies as or could be perceived to be LGBTQI that the Supreme Court acknowledge that this is, at root, sex-based discrimination that should be prohibited under Title VII,” DignityUSA states in its brief.

 

DignityUSA is the world’s oldest and largest organization of Catholics working for justice, equality and full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the church and society. Founded in 1969, it is also a founding member of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.