CV NEWS FEED // Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, KY, has endorsed the Equality Act, even as other bishops urgently warn that the Democrat-backed legislation would effectively criminalize religious views in public life.
“As a Catholic bishop, I hate to see any form of harmful discrimination protected by law and it is consistent with our teaching to ensure that LGBTQ people have the protection they need,” wrote Stowe in a March 19 letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In the letter, obtained by America Magazine, the bishop stated that he is “grateful for many LGBTQ Catholics who serve and lead their communities with distinction. Their perseverance, their grace, and devotion to the common good,” he wrote, “has made Catholic communities holier and has edified our nation.”
The bishop went on to decry the “deplorable” treatment of “LGBTQ persons” in America.
He also briefly addressed the concerns of the U.S. Conference of Bishops (who adamantly oppose the Equality Act) that the proposed law would threaten religious liberty and the sanctity of unborn life.
He wrote that “the right to practice and live in accord with the teachings of one’s faith” must be protected, and that he does not “condone any expansion in abortion access,” but added “I do not believe that the Equality Act would compromise our beliefs on this matter.”
Asked about his decision to oppose the U.S. Bishops’ position on the Equality Act, Stowe told America “it’s a difficult thing to take a stance against what the U.S.C.C.B. published,” but “How can we take a position against equality?”
Are the U.S. Bishops Simply “Against Equality?”
Stowe’s framing of the Equality Act’s merits might surprise many. Catholic leaders, including the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, have been quite rigorous in their arguments against the controversial legislation.
Far from simply taking “a position against equality,” they have pointed out that the legislation would radically redefine anti-discrimination law in a way that sets religious believers up on the wrong side of the law.
In addition, the bishops’ statements against the Equality Act have regularly emphasized the Church’s teaching on the just treatment of people with same-sex attraction, which forbids “unjust discrimination” against them.
“Something doesn’t add up here,” said CatholicVote political director Joshua Mercer Wednesday. “For Stowe to come out in favor of the Equality Act is bad enough. But here he’s also smearing anyone concerned about the legislation’s effects of religious liberty and the unborn as nothing but spiteful enemies of equality.”
“That’s not fair, and it’s an insult to millions of faithful Catholics trying to stick up for their faith in public life,” Mercer concluded. “But in a way it’s appropriate. Stowe’s only figuratively throwing us under the bus. If passed, the Equality Act would back up that attitude with the full force of the federal government.”
IMAGE: Province of Our Lady of Consolation