17 July 2014, The Tablet

Pro-gay US religious leaders: we don't need LGBT exemptions

A week after a group of religious leaders wrote to President Barack Obama urging him to enact religious exemptions in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination rule, a different group of religious leaders sent a letter to the president, urging that no such religious exemptions be included.

“As faith and civic leaders dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and equal worth of every person, we are grateful for your upcoming executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors,” the letter stated. “We urge you not to include a religious exemption in the executive order. In keeping with the principle that our government must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and fairness in its own operations, we believe that public dollars should not be used to sanction discrimination.”

The letter was signed by, among others, Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, Serene Jones, President of the Union Theological Seminary, and several non-Christian leaders as well. No Catholic clergy signed the letter, although one religious sister, Sr Jeanne Grammick, and three Catholic lay people who have advocated for LGBT rights, did sign.

Meanwhile the US Supreme Court on 3 July issued a temporary injunction to Wheaton College, allowing the Christian university to avoid compliance with the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate. Wheaton College is one of 40 non-profit religious institutions that are challenging the requirement to provide contraceptive cover for employees and students.


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