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CFC Applauds SCOTUS Decision on LGBT Protections

June 15, 2020

Catholics for Choice Applauds US Supreme Court’s Decision as a Win for Social Justice

Washington, DC— Catholics for Choice applauds today’s decision of the US Supreme Court on Bostock v. Clayton County, GA and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, affirming employees’ protection against discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and use of reproductive health services under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The economic hardship wrought by the COVID-19 recession, with 40 million unemployed, profoundly illustrates that people, especially the poor and hardest hit, need legal assurances that their livelihood will not be subject to the religious beliefs and prejudices of their employers.

As Catholics, we believe in the inherent dignity of each person, including the poorest of the poor.  Our social justice tradition calls us to advocate for policies that protect the least among us: the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society.  Our reverence for conscience obligates us to follow our own and to afford others, even those with whom we disagree, that same courtesy.

Unfortunately, the Catholic hierarchy, through its political arm, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has wed itself to the Trump administration in efforts to secure federal policies that broaden the ability to discriminate against women, LGBT people and those seeking reproductive healthcare. The USCCB’s amicus briefs in both these cases claim that protecting the LGBT community “would create serious burdens on religious liberty” and “could affect the ability of health care providers to perform services in accord with their professional judgment as well as their religious and moral convictions.”

The bishops decidedly un-Catholic attempts to impose their prejudices on the entire nation runs counter to the beliefs of a strong majority of Catholics, 74% of whom disagree with the use of our religion as a means to discriminate.

The Court’s decision in favor of equality runs counter to efforts by the administration to roll back access to healthcare. On Friday, June 12, callously on the anniversary of the horrific violence perpetrated against the LGBT community in the 2016 Pulse massacre, Trump administration released a final rule implementing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) non-discrimination provision (Section 1557) to erase protections for transgender people, immigrants, people who have had abortions and limiting people’s access to healthcare based on the beliefs of their employers. This act of cruelty is sadly, supported by the Catholic bishops as a part of their agenda to redefine religious liberty.

Everyday Catholics know that religious freedom is an expansive rather than restrictive idea: It is not about telling people what they can and cannot believe or practice, but about giving people the space to follow their own conscience in what they believe and practice. Protections for religious freedom do not give license to obstruct or coerce the exercise of another person’s conscience.

The Trump administration bills itself a champion of religious freedom, while in truth it is simply moving the political agenda of the bishops and their ultraconservative allies.

We are all the more pleased, therefore, to congratulate the Supreme Court justices who today ensured that “equal justice under the law” is not just a slogan, but a certainty for all.