Episcopal Church leaders support Federal employment protections for LGBTQ people
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings are the lead signers of a friend of the court brief filed today with the Supreme Court of the United States. In the brief, they join more than 720 interfaith clergy and faith leaders in declaring that their religious beliefs compel them to support equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people who face employment discrimination.
The brief, which supports plaintiffs in three cases that ask the court to rule on whether or not to roll back protections for LGBTQ people under the Civil Rights Act, is consistent with actions taken by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church in 1976, 2009 and 2018.
Curry and Jennings, who were also the lead signers on a 2017 friend of the court brief filed in a Supreme Court case concerning transgender bathroom use policies, emphasized that The Episcopal Church’s support for legal protections for LGBTQ people stems from its understanding of Christian social teaching grounded in the teaching of Jesus.
“The way of love that Jesus taught us is to honor the sacredness, dignity and worth and equality of each person,” said Curry. “We work for the equality and dignity of LGBTQ people because, like the rest of us, they are created in God’s image and likeness.”
“As Christians, we bear a particular responsibility to speak out, because attempts to deny LGBTQ people their dignity and humanity as children of God are too often made in the name of God,” said Jennings, who was also the lead signer on a religious leaders friend of the court brief in the Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage in 2015. “This way of fear is not the way of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to cast out fear.”
The signers of today’s brief argue that allowing discrimination against LGBTQ people on religious grounds would privilege one set of religious views over their own faith-based support for equal protection.
“Within the diverse panorama of American religious thought, a large and growing portion of the religious community welcomes, accepts, and celebrates LGBT individuals and rejects the idea that they should be subject to discrimination based on differing religious views,” the brief reads. “This belief in equality is grounded most fundamentally in a broadly shared core religious belief in the dignity and worth of all individuals.”
General Convention first called for equal protection under the law for gay and lesbian people in 1976 with Resolution 1976-A071. In 2009, the convention passed Resolution 2009-D012, which expanded the call for equal protection to include transgender people and in 2018 reaffirmed that call in Resolution 2018-C022.
“The General Convention has taken these stands based on Christian social teaching grounded in the teaching of Jesus and his way of love which compels Christians, in the language of the Covenant of Holy Baptism, to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” and to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being,’” said Curry.
The brief was filed in the cases of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623, which both concern discrimination against employees because of sexual orientation, and R.G & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC, No. 18-107, which concerns discrimination against transgender people based on their status as transgender or because of sex stereotyping. The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the cases on October 8. A decision is expected by June 2020.
Editor’s note: The full text of the Episcopal Church General Convention resolutions is available online: