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USCCB decries Obama’s LGBT executive order as ‘unprecedented and extreme’

July 22, 2014

Referring to the “irrefutable rightness of your cause,” President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning federal employment discrimination against transgendered persons and prohibiting “all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.”

The order contains no exemptions for religious employers with federal contracts.

“We've got a long way to go, but I hope as everybody looks around this room, you are reminded of the extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years,” the president said. “In the last two years. In the last one year. We're on the right side of history.”

In a joint statement, the chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth decried the decision.

“Today’s executive order is unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed,” said Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo. “In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination.”

“With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent,” they continued. “As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

The prelates added:

More specifically, the Church strongly opposes both unjust discrimination against those who experience a homosexual inclination and sexual conduct outside of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman. But the executive order, as it regards federal government contractors, ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term “sexual orientation.” As a result, even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.

The executive order prohibits “gender identity” discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex. This is a problem not only of principle but of practice, as it will jeopardize the privacy and associational rights of both federal contractor employees and federal employees. For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.

In an attempt to avoid these needless conflicts, states that have passed “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” prohibitions have overwhelmingly included protections for religious employers. When the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by the President’s own party, passed the similar Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last year, it included religious liberty protections as well. Indeed, all prior versions of ENDA had at least some religious liberty protections. But the executive order is an anomaly in this regard, containing no religious liberty protections. In this way, the order, which is fundamentally flawed in itself, also needlessly prefers conflict and exclusion over coexistence and cooperation.


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  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 22, 2014 7:58 PM ET USA

    The Church's attempt to enter the fray when the U.S. government is in disarray is laughable. President is openly flaunting the Constitution provisions that require separation of powers, while the divided Congress is unwilling to act to protect the Constitution because of political considerations. While the Church should be concerned about the breakdown of civil authority in the USA, it instead plays "small ball" and criticizes individual actions actions of elected officials.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jul. 22, 2014 4:00 PM ET USA

    The purpose of the order is to marginalize and help impoverish faithful Christians. It is also to prevent authentic Christian groups from working cooperatively in various charitable operations such as anti-human trafficking, helping the poor and disaster relief. Thus requiring greater government involvement and control of these programs while disingenuously asserting that Christians have no heart and just unkind and lazy hate groups who refuse to step up and help.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 22, 2014 10:04 AM ET USA

    Will this order pressure orthodox Catholic colleges (whose students receive student loans) to admit and house active homosexuals and transgender folks?