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Archibishop Lori and Bishop Malone step in it on contractor non-discrimination

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Today's essay by Michael Sean Winters in National Catholic Reporter provides a link to the USCCB reaction to the President's non-discrimination executive order on their web page, which you can view at http://www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-126.cfm. You can read his analysis on http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/usccb-response-worse-expe... Mine follows.

Let us be clear that this is not from the USCCB as a whole. As far as we know, there was no national call-in or e-mail vote on this position. It is the work of two staff and two bishops and I suspect the RNC was contacted before anyone else in the Church was involved. MSW deals well with the culture was issues these bishops seem to be dealing with, so let me hit some additional points having to do with the press release. The release first opposes executive power over the bureaucracy. This is simply ignorant. They talk of opposing this order, but it is in final form. While they can, of course, challenge any adverse actions against Church agencies or institutions, there is no place for a general challenge. The USCCB has no contracts with the Federal Government, so they have no standing.

As I mentioned yesterday, most Catholic organizations are in compliance with this order, including not raising a stink when a gay staff member gets married. I suspect that usually there is a gift involved. While Fr. Larry of CCUSA is the servant of diocesan Catholic Charities organizations, he has no policy control over them. Still, knowing many of the directors, they are not likely to go on a witch hunt for either closeted or openy gay employees - and this bridge was crossed by Catholic hospitals long age. Schools may be a problem, but they get little in federal money aside from grants from the U.S. Department of Education. This will most likely affect grants not given or even not applied for and if there is a problem, the Order may be modified to deal with it before a law suit can be filed. Even if it is, it would be a suit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which can also be repealed), rather than the First Amendment. It is as likely that by the time any case would get to the SCOTUS, there will be a Democratic Congress and White House - a more liberal one than the last time, and ENDA will pass, with amendments to RFRA, cutting any suit off at the knees.

On the Church's central comment about the order not distinguishing between sexual attraction and sexual conduct is a head scratcher unless they want government employers to be come the sex police. Some suggest this may be about the eventual nationalization of marriage equality and the right to deny benefits to gay spouses. This is totally indefensible, because Church employers have, to date, not denied benefits to heterosexual employees married civilly - marriages that the law recongnizes by the law but doctrine does not. This is about bigotry, pure and simple. Of coruse, the other possibility is that they are making this distictinction to allow gay clergy to be counted as not discriminated against while they continue to reserve the rigth (which they don't use) to discriminate against gay laity.

The last bit is about transgendered employees and bathrooms. It is hardly enough of a reason to oppose the Executive Order. Such matters are usually worked out with those using the bathrooms in question, not by a lawsuit by the bishops against the White House.

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