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USCCB opposes ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity’ in domestic violence legislation

March 07, 2013

The heads of four committees and one subcommittee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have announced that they “cannot support” the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which has passed the House and Senate by wide margins (286-138 and 78-22 respectively).

President Barack Obama has pledged to sign the legislation.

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a history of supporting the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and of providing ongoing support to victims of domestic violence through our social service programs,” said Bishop Stephen Blaire, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Archbishop William Lori, and Archbishop José Gomez in a joint statement.

“Unfortunately, we cannot support the version of the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013” passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate (S. 47) because of certain language it contains,” they continued, adding:

Among our concerns are those provisions in S. 47 that refer to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” All persons must be protected from violence, but codifying the classifications “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as contained in S. 47 is problematic. These two classifications are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons. They undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference. They are unjustly exploited for purposes of marriage redefinition, and marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with any children born from their union.

The Senate’s decision to incorporate into S. 47 a title reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act also raises concerns because this title omits language to protect the conscience rights of faith-based service providers to victims of human trafficking … Conscience protections are needed in this legislation to ensure that these service providers are not required to violate their bona fide religious beliefs as a condition for serving the needy.


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  • Posted by: jgdiamond25716 - Aug. 10, 2013 3:05 PM ET USA

    The USCCB DID come out against this - in March 2011 - see: In Sep 2011 the USCCB created a staff, with Lobbyist, to deal with DC - see

  • Posted by: hansen5676327 - Mar. 08, 2013 8:14 AM ET USA

    If the USCCB is going to weigh in on a bill, it would be much better if they do so BEFORE it's passed by both houses and is sitting on the president's desk. As my grandfather used to say, "A day late and a dollar short."