Catholics Applaud Obama’s Plans to Protect LGBT Workers from Discrimination

Equally Blessed supports President Obama’s plans to sign an executive order granting protection for LGBT employees, and urges him to not include a religious exemption.

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 27, 2014—The Equally Blessed coalition released the following statement regarding President Obama’s plans to sign an executive order granting protection for LGBT employees of organizations that take federal money:

As Catholics committed to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, we applaud President Obama’s announcement that he plans to sign an executive order granting much needed protections to LGBT people employed by organizations that receive federal money.

As Catholics, we know firsthand how vulnerable LGBT people can be to employment discrimination. On a near weekly basis, a Catholic teacher, parish employee or hospital worker is fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In the last few months, news headlines have been filled with stories about Catholic employees who lost their jobs after marrying their same-sex partners, coming out as transgender, or for simply standing in support of their LGBT children. These stories are just a few examples of why LGBT people urgently need worker protection, regardless of the religious affiliation of their employer.

In September, Equally Blessed sent a letter to the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions urging them to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) without a broad exemption for religious employers. We reiterate our support for employment protection for all LGBT people, including those employed by religious organizations. A broad religious exemption would affect not only ministers but thousands of educators, health care providers and nonprofit administrators employed by the Catholic Church. Religiously affiliated hospitals would have grounds to fire LGBT doctors. Religiously affiliated universities could fire LGBT faculty. Religiously affiliated social service and relief agencies could fire LGBT social workers and program officers.  Such actions would not only harm individual employees and their families, but would also damage the effectiveness of these valuable institutions.

According to a March 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 73 percent of U. S. Catholics support laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in the workplace. We join these Catholics in urging President Obama to sign an executive order protecting LGBT workers without a religious exemption, so that our Catholic employees can be free to serve our church and wider society without the threat of discrimination.

Equally Blessed is a coalition of four Catholic organizations that have spent more than 120 years working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. Collectively and individually, Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry are devoted to informing, supporting and giving voice to the growing majority within the Catholic Church in the United States that favors equality under law for LGBT people.

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