“These men act as if discrimination is an entitlement.”
Catholic Conference of Ohio

Ohio House Bill 369 is probably not destined for passage. It does not have bipartisan support and Republicans have large majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Even if, by some miracle, it did pass, Governor Mike DeWine is a dependable anti-LGBTQ bigot. HB369 seeks to amend existing Ohio laws to prohibit discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio has sent a letter to each member of the Ohio House of Representatives expressing strong opposition to the legislation.

The Catholic Church stands against unjust discrimination. We encourage public policies that will address bullying and
hate crimes. However, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) non-discrimination legislation such as HB
369 would negate and inappropriately redefine reasonable laws that currently protect the rights of conscience and
religious liberty. Of major concern is the possibility that certain actions our Church takes regarding behaviors we view
as immoral will be perceived and litigated as discriminatory.

The bishops are proponents of what they consider to be just discrimination; something that they — and they alone — get to decide. “Rights of conscience and religious liberty” is code for a self-manufactured right to discriminate against people that they disapprove of — all neatly cloaked in scripture and holy dogma. The only “right” that adherents have is to free exercise of religion.

Public policy extends some nondurable rights to houses of worship. They are free of federal taxes and relieved of annual filing requirements with the Internal Revenue Service. One of these days those special privileges will be reviewed. More so if we are forced to subsidize prejudicial enterprises without so much as a peep hole of transparency.

The missive continues:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote:

“SOGI laws, using ambiguous definitions for both sexual orientation and gender identity, potentially impact
all religious institutions that seek to uphold the Church’s understanding of sexual difference. For example,
“sexual orientation” laws could force a Catholic school to retain a math teacher for obtaining a same-sex
“marriage” because they do the same for those who obtain opposite-sex marriages. “Gender identity” laws
may seek to force a women’s shelter run by a Catholic agency to allow a male to stay there because he
“identifies” as female. The Church certainly stands against unjust discrimination, but SOGI legislation tends
to go much further than this, introducing terms into law that are not clearly defined, and banning reasonable
rules that acknowledge male and female differences.”

That is sanctimonious sophistry. There is nothing ambiguous about either sexual orientation or gender identity. Any uncertainty is resolved when people are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Moreover, a Catholic school is not due any privileges not extended to any other private school. These men act as if discrimination is an entitlement.

This has little to do with marriage. Marriage is one of the means by which these men determine who is TWG (teaching while gay). They manage to demonstrate precisely why nondiscrimination laws are necessary. If a person is hired to teach mathematics and they perform that function to the satisfaction of the school, then the private life of that employee should be immaterial to their employment. The bishops don’t seem to be firing teachers who use birth control, get divorces or have premarital sex.

Then the bishops are suggesting that a transgender woman poses a threat to other women. That is sheer bigotry. Note that they are incapable of writing “transgender woman.” Instead we get “male who ‘identifies’ as female.” This is part of the pretense that transgender people do not really exist.

In fact, take note of all the words that are in defensive (smear) quotes: Sexual orientation, [same-sex] marriage, gender identity and identifies. What they are saying is that none of these things really exist. Sexual orientation, for example, is an imaginary construct as is gender identity. It is an appeal to ignorance.

The letter is signed by Dennis M. Schnurr, chairman of the Catholic Conference of Ohio and archbishop of Cincinnati followed by nine other bishops.

There is a bright note to all of this. One of the two primary sponsors of HB369, Brett Hudson Hillyer, is someone to watch. Hillyer, at 33, looks like a rising star. He is a partner at a small law firm. In only his first term as a state representative, Hillyer is a prime sponsor of 17 bills.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.