Catholic Bishops: Obama's 'Gender Identity' Regulation 'Serious Threat to Freedom of Conscience'

By Lauretta Brown | December 8, 2014 | 5:43pm EST

Headquarters of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. (USCCB)

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) condemned new regulations to implement President Obama’s July 21 executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating "on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

These regulations were put in place by the Department of Labor last week in an update “to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes it protects” against discrimination.

"This rule will extend protections to millions of workers who are employed by or seek jobs with federal contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity are never used as justification for workplace discrimination by those that profit from taxpayer dollars," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

However the bishops called these regulations “a serious threat to freedom of conscience and religious liberty.”

“Additionally, the regulations advance the false ideology of ‘gender identity,’ which ignores biological reality and harms the privacy and associational rights of both contractors and their employees,” the bishops noted.

“Our Church teaches that '[e]very sign of unjust discrimination' against those who experience same-sex attraction 'should be avoided' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 2358)--but it appears on an initial reading that these regulations would prohibit far more than that ‘unjust discrimination,’” the bishops said in a statement on Friday.

“In particular, they appear also to prohibit employers’ religious and moral disapproval of same-sex sexual conduct, which creates a serious threat to freedom of conscience and religious liberty,” the bishops explain.

They point out that the regulations conflict with Church teaching against the approval of same-sex sexual conduct, quoting the Catechism, which says that “[u]nder no circumstances” may Catholics approve of such conduct (CCC 2357).”

The bishops also note that “very many other people over a broad spectrum of different religious faiths hold this same conviction.”

“In justice, the Administration should not exclude contractors from federal contracting simply because they have religious or moral convictions about human sexuality and sexual conduct that differ from the views of the current governmental authorities,” the bishops conclude.

Four USCCB committee chairmen signed the statement: Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Earlier this year, Bishop Lori and Bishop Malone issued a statement saying that the July 21st executive order was "unprecedented and extreme" and in effect "implements discrimination."

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