This letter was sent to all US Senators May 10, 2019
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
We are writing to urge swift action and your full support of the Equality Act, S.788. DignityUSA, marking 50 years of working for equality for LGBT Catholics in our church and society, represents the significant majority of Catholic voters who agree with the protections this bill would extend to vulnerable groups in our society.
Since the early 1990s, numerous well-respected public opinion polls have shows that majorities of Catholics believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people deserve equal protection under our laws in employment, education, access to public accommodations, military service, foster care and adoption. While Catholics are often divided along political lines on controversial issues, there is strong bipartisan support for the rights of LGBT people—including marriage equality and the right to be treated equally by merchants and employers. In January 2019, the Pew Research Center’s study found that 69% of Catholic Republicans and 84% of Catholic Democrats believe homosexuality should be accepted by society. According to Public Religion Research Institute (August 2018), 58% of all Catholics say small businesses should not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking services.
Legal protection for LGBT people is widely supported by Catholics across age, ethnicity, political affiliation, frequency of church attendance, and income. This is an area in which the people of the church and its leadership have significant disagreement. We are aware that a small number of our church officials have raised objections to the Equality Act, but most Catholics find their arguments questionable and inconsistent with the core beliefs of our church. It is vital that you know that their positions do not represent those of Catholic voters. Many find the bishops’ arguments to directly counter our understanding of the faith we cherish, which names all discrimination unjust.
LGBT people live in every part of our country and are members of virtually every family. We deserve the full protections of our nation’s laws, and equal access to public services, including health care, housing, education, and employment. It is time to remove the many structural barriers faced by our community for too long.
Swift passage of S. 788 is especially important at this time as the status of LGBT people is increasingly threatened by administrative action and state laws that roll back some of the hard-won protections our community has achieved. As recently as last week, regulations came out that claim to protect the conscience of health care providers. Given that Catholic hospitals now account for one out of every six hospital beds in the U.S. and given directives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the prioritization of employees’ beliefs over patients’ rights to health care that respects their agency is very much at risk. The lives and health of LGBT people are directly threatened by those provisions. S. 788 would ensure equality in access to medical care for our community.
As major employers and social service providers in every state in our country, Catholic institutions have tremendous impact on the lives of many, many people, Catholic and non-Catholic. Many of the services they provide are funded with public money, and no American should face barriers due to who they are or who they love. Passage of S. 788 is necessary to further our nation’s goals of equality and full inclusion.
We urge your full support of the Equality Act and are very willing to respond to any questions you may have.
Christopher Pett Lauren Carpenter Marianne Duddy-Burke
President Vice-President Executive Director