Five committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote a letter to members of Congress opposing the recent reintroduction of the Equality Act (H.R. 5), which is scheduled to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. The bishops warned of the threats posed by the proposed legislation to both people of faith and of no faith, with respect to mandates impacting charities and their beneficiaries in need, health care and other conscience rights, taxpayer funding of abortion, freedom of speech, women’s sports and sex-specific facilities, and more.
The Equality Act, the USCCB warns, would uphold transgender ideology by requiring “girls and women to compete against boys and men for limited opportunities in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower spaces with biological males who identify as women.”
The bill could also force doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries, the bishops’ conference says. Pro-life groups have also said that the act could expand abortions by considering refusal to perform abortions unlawful “pregnancy discrimination.”
Groups opposed to the redefinition of marriage would be “punished” under the law, the USCCB said.
The committee chairmen’s letter to Congress explained:
“[E]very person is made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly, with respect and compassion. This commitment is reflected in the Church’s charitable service to all people, without regard to race, religion, or any other characteristic. It means we need to honor every person’s right to gainful employment free of unjust discrimination or harassment, and to the basic goods that they need to live and thrive. It also means that people of differing beliefs should be respected.”
Furthermore, the bishop chairmen asserted, “The [Equality Act] represents the imposition by Congress of novel and divisive viewpoints regarding ‘gender’ on individuals and organizations. This includes dismissing sexual difference and falsely presenting ‘gender’ as only a social construct. As Pope Francis has reflected, however, ‘“biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.” … It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality.’ Tragically, this Act can also be construed to include an abortion mandate, a violation of precious rights to life and conscience.”
“Rather than affirm human dignity in ways that meaningfully exceed existing practical protections, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith,” they concluded.
The letter was jointly signed by Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
The letter is available at https://www.usccb.org/resources/Letter_to_Congress_on_Equality_Act_Feb_23_2021.
More information and resources related to the USCCB’s stance on the Equality Act may be found at https://www.usccb.org/equality-act.
From The USCCB