The Obama administration delivered a significant advance in the promise America would be more equal and just place for LGBT citizens when it tasked the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with addressing the problem of LGBT-discriminatory housing practices.
“We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“Not so fast!” says the Catholic Church.Once again, they are desperately afraid that they won’t be able to participate in public programs and practice their private discrimination. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Press Release reads:
The USCCB Urges HUD Not to Include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Among Protected Categories
We write on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in opposition to a proposed regulation that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected categories for which discrimination in HUD programs is prohibited.
The full statement (PDF) is here. They have two points to make:
1. The Proposed Regulation Lacks Any Statutory Basis and Undermines the Policy of a Statute in Full Force, the Defense of Marriage Act.
Ah yes, the US Government has never passed any LGBT-affirmative legislation before, and ever it shall remain. Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has this to say on the long-standing discriminatory practices in the public and private sectors:
“LGBT people remain particularly vulnerable in seeking or retaining housing due to widespread bias, discrimination and a lack of housing protections,” said Carey. “Explicitly including LGBT people and our families in housing policies in order to better protect them and ensure fairness marks a proper governmental response and step toward rectifying a long-standing inequity.”
The second point the USCCB has to make is:
2. The Proposed Regulation May Infringe Upon the Rights of Faith-Based Organizations Not to Facilitate Shared Housing Arrangements That Violate the Organization’s Religious Beliefs.
God told us to turn away gays, lesbians and trans people, and you can’t tell us otherwise.
In fact, this was a very welcome step in our Government assuming responsibility that taxpayer-supported programs would be made available to all taxpayers. And the issue of housing discrimination is a very serious problem that needs addressing.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a study just months ago on the state of discrimination on trans community. It’s bad. Among their issues with housing:
19% reported having been refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity/expression.
One-fifth (19%) reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives because theu were transgender or gender non-conforming; the majority of those trying to access a homeless shelter were harassed by shelter staff or residents (55%), 29% were turned away altogether, and Respondents reported various forms of direct housing discrimination — 19% reported having been refused a home ot apartmenr and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity/expression.
One-fifth (19%) reported experiencing homelessness at some point in thier lives because they were transgender or gender non-conforming; the majority of those trying to access a homeless shelter were harassed by shelter staff or residents (55%), 29% were turned away altogether, and 22% were sexually assaulted by residents or staff.
Almost 2% of respondents were currently homeless, which is almost twice the rate of the general population (1%)
Respondents reported less than half the national rate of hme ownership: 32% reported owning their home compared to 67% of the general population.
Respondents who have experienced homelessness were highly vulnerable to mistreatment in public settings, police abuse and negative health outcomes.
Additionally, other studies have found and epidemic of homeless LGBT youth:
Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, between 20 and 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
Much more than these regulations needs to be done to address these problem. But, any movement that provides easier access to shelter and housing is a welcome step and likely to have a ripple effect. The Government can — and has a responsibility — to set the standards, and this HUD decision is a great incremental step in the right direction.
We’ve seen the Catholic Church pull these bullying tactic many times before. If the Church isn’t down with providing services equitably, they’re free to get out of the business, as they did Massachusetts, they pulled it in Washington DC. And here it is again. Asserting their religious freedom to collect tax-payer money and practice discriminatory policies at the same time.
It seems to me if the Church is going to involve itself in the public business of helping the less fortunate, it might contemplate whether it’s appropriate to be sorting their charity cases into piles labeled “worthy” and “unworthy”. They might consult the Constitution for some relevant thoughts. They might consult their Bible as well.
Leviticus 25:35-36: If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. 36 Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.
The public commenting period on this regulation expired on March 25th.
Frankly, I rather resent being scolded on my morality by a organization that just paid out $250,000,000 to settle 700 cases of abusing and raping children that will never be prosecuted. Bishops? Heal thy own soul please. Think of the children.