I want to say a few words about The Equality Act, and about the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ reaction to it.
The Equality Act is a bill that’s up for a vote in Congress. You can read the whole thing yourself; it’s not long. It is, essentially, an attempt to insert “or sexual orientation or gender” into the anti-discrimination laws our country has already, right after “on the basis of sex or race.” It’s an attempt to ensure that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination and abuse. This is right in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states in Paragraph 2358: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
I happen to be bisexual and a Catholic, myself. I am monogamous with my husband. I’m equally likely to be attracted to men or women, and if I were to sexually objectify a man or a woman in my thoughts that would be a sin, so I pray for the grace of God not to do that and I repent whenever I fail. I suppose that if I were heterosexual, I would only ever be tempted to sexually objectify men and would have perfectly chaste, virtuous and respectful relationships with all women. It must be nice. I know a lot of other LGBTQ people who live in obedience to the teachings of the Catholic Church, no matter how hard it gets for them. And I also know LGBTQ people who have left the Church because they have been abused, humiliated and told that they’re dangerous or evil for having a desire. If you’ve never been told that, I can’t describe for you how damaging it is.
As an LGBTQ Catholic who has stayed in communion, I’d like to point out that we frequently get reminded that the Church forbids homosexual intercourse and teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s something nearly everyone knows about the Church. But for some reason, very few people are so eager to recite Paragraph 2358 and remind their fellow Catholics that we are called to follow God’s will just as much as they are and that they ought to avoid all unjust discrimination against us.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops seems to have forgotten Paragraph 2358 entirely. This week their official Twitter account tweeted a thread of objections to the Equality Act which I can only describe as slanderous, abusive scaremongering. They repeat the standard conservative scare tactics against LGBTQ people and especially my brothers and sisters who are transgender. They are concerned for everybody else’s right to do exactly as they please even if it violates Paragraph 2358, but have no concern whatsoever for protecting LGBTQ people from unjust discrimination. Only once do they approach a good point, but they do so in a way that seems calculated to hurt as many people as possible.
I want to take a moment to dialogue with their thread point by point.
The USCCB writes:
“The #EqualityAct would discriminate against people of faith rather than affirm human dignity in ways that meaningfully exceed existing practical protection. #Congress is imposing novel and divisive viewpoints regarding “gender” on individuals and organizations. It would also inflict numerous legal and social harms on Americans of any faith or none. If passed, this legislation would: 1) punish faith-based charities because of their beliefs on marriage and sexuality.
2) hinder quality health care by forcing health care professionals, against their best medical judgment, to support treatments and procedures associated with “gender transition.”
3) force religiously operated spaces and establishments (i.e., church halls) to either host functions that violate their beliefs or close their doors to their communities.
4) require women to compete against men and boys in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower facilities with men and boys.
And as for locker rooms and showers, I’m also concerned that this is a danger. Not, as the USCCB seems to be worried, because some man in a wig is going to claim to be transgender and try to shower with women. I’m concerned because transgender people actually do face a lot of danger and harassment when they use a public bathroom or locker room. So do many other people, LGBTQ or not. Think of the bullying that goes on in schools. Think how often a group of children mutually decide to bully an unpopular classmate by making up rumors that they’re gay. Now put them in a locker room together. This does happen. It’s also the case that women are assaulted in public bathrooms already, by other women or by men, without bringing the transgender issue into it. They’re not very secure places. Not to mention, having a men’s bathroom and a women’s bathroom with flimsy stalls is a real pain to disabled people and their families. My friend used to have to take her seventeen-year-old son with physical and developmental disabilities into the restroom and coach him through a bowel movement. It was inconvenient, awkward, and subjected them to harassment whether she went to the men’s or the women’s.
5) jeopardize existing prohibitions on the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortion.
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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