Magazine article The Christian Century

Catholic Bishops Opposed Lesbian Rights in Bill That Protects Women

Magazine article The Christian Century

Catholic Bishops Opposed Lesbian Rights in Bill That Protects Women

Article excerpt

A NEWLY authorized Violence Against Women Act, signed by President Obama on March 7, was opposed by five key Catholic bishops for fear it would subvert traditional views of marriage and gender and compromise the religious freedom of groups that aid victims of human trafficking.

Intended to protect women from domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, the act allows the federal government to spend money to treat victims and prosecute offenders. But for the first time since the original act became law in 1994, it spells out that no person may be excluded from the law's protections because of "sexual orientation" or "gender identity"--specifically covering lesbian, transgender and bisexual women.

That language disturbs several bishops who head key committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that deal with, among other issues, marriage, the laity, youth and religious liberty.

"These two classifications are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons. They undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference," the bishops said March 6 in a statement from the USCCB. …

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