Catholic bishops lobbied against national suicide hotline because it included funding for LGBT+ groups

Lily Wakefield March 26, 2021
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Reverend José H Gomez, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Reverend José H Gomez, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Getty)

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbied last year to stop the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act from passing, just because the legislation included specific LGBT+ care.

Congress passed the act in 2020, creating a free of charge phone number that US residents can call during a mental health crisis.

The legislation acknowledges that LGBT+ youth are “more than four times more likely to contemplate suicide than their peers, with one in five LGBTQ youth and more than one in three transgender youth reporting attempting suicide”, and recommends that “specially trained staff and partner organisations for LGBTQ youth” be funded as part of the hotline.

However, the National Catholic Reporter revealed this week that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops quietly lobbied against the legislation.

The conference’s opposition to the suicide hotline is just the tip of the iceberg, as the publication revealed that they had also fought the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

The 2013 legislation expanded on the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which provided additional funding to prosecute violent crimes against women, in part by specifying that “underserved populations” would be defined as “populations that face barriers in accessing and using victim services because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity”.

In a 2013 statement on why they refused to support the act, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote: “All persons must be protected from violence, but codifying the classifications ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as contained in in S. 47 is problematic.

“These two classifications are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons.

“They undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference. They are unjustly exploited for purposes of marriage redefinition, and marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with any children born from their union.”

Following the trend of opposing any legislation that even acknowledges the existence of LGBT+ folk, the conference of course fought against the Equality Act, which was recently passed by the House of Representatives.

In a statement, the conference claimed that the Equality Act would “discriminate against people of faith”, and that it “purports to protect people experiencing same-sex attraction or gender discordance from discrimination”.

It continued: “But instead, the bill represents the imposition by Congress of novel and divisive viewpoints regarding ‘gender’ on individuals and organisations.”

“This includes dismissing sexual difference and falsely presenting ‘gender’ as only a social construct.”

More: Catholic Church

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