Opinion | Susan Knopf: Equality for all | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Equality for all


The local Catholic Church circulated a statement from Colorado bishops stating that equal rights for gays means discrimination against the Church. Nope.

This is the classic argument used by white supremacists to keep out immigrants, hold down minorities, keep women tied up in apron strings and prevent gays from having the same rights and privileges that straight people enjoy.

It’s time for this kind of thinking to stop. Someone else’s opportunity is not my downfall. Such thinking is the root of envy and is forbidden by the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” It’s not just about the wife or the car or the job. Your neighbor’s good fortune is not something that should make you feel angry, deprived or envious. Try feeling gladness for your neighbor and nurturing, encouraging aspiration for yourself.

Allowing gays to marry or adopt children does not invalidate or deprive anyone of their beliefs. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to go to the wedding. The Catholic Church can say, “No we won’t bless that union. We still see it as sin.”

But when the Catholic Church tries to stop legislation to protect the rights of gays in this state and circulates information to congregants telling them they should not champion rights for others, a line has been crossed.

Conservatives are fond of saying government should stay out of our lives. Perhaps institutions generally need to stay out of people’s private lives. That includes the church dictating how other people should live.

For the record, I looked over H.R. 5, and I believe it would have protected me in Texas. I got a jury summons, and I was able and wanted to serve. I was not allowed to serve because I had school-age children. My husband was allowed to serve even though he had school-age children.

I tried to object and was not allowed to do so. H.R. 5, amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect all people regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. This law, now passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, would have protected my right to serve on a jury.

Local professor emeritus Ron Gebhardtsbauer said of the church’s statement, “If they can’t get a religious exemption on racial issues, why should they get a religious exemption on LGBTQ issues?“

Gebhardtsbauer is referring to Bob Jones University v. United States, which held racially discriminatory policies that nullified the tax-exempt status of the university. The case found that the government fosters charitable institutions that foster public good. Racial discrimination is not a public good.

Perhaps this is the church’s concern? If they continue to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, they might lose their tax-exempt status. Off the record, I’ve been told, gay professionals have left the local Catholic Church because they felt unaccepted and marginalized.

Gebhardtsbauer’s spouse, Greg Wright said, “My local church says God made me this way.”

Gebhardtsbauer believes the question remains. If his spouse was admitted to St. Anthony, a Catholic hospital, could the hospital say, “Sorry, Ron. You can’t see your dying husband. We don’t believe in gay marriage.”

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, who helped pass the Equality Act, wrote in a news release that “LGBTQ people deserve to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans. … The Equality Act guarantees LGBTQ people can live their lives free of discrimination.”

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court found that employment discrimination against gays and transgender individuals is forbidden under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the solid 6-3 decision — a strong indication the Equality Act, if passed by the Senate, will pass a Supreme Court test.

The larger question may be, do religious beliefs and practices that discriminate against others really serve the work of the faithful? Are you really doing the work if you fail to uplift those who seek religious support?

The religious will decry the Bible proscribes homosexuality. To them I say, what would Jesus do? Surely every religious scholar knows the central tenet of every faith is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Shouldn’t every house of worship be a safe harbor? A place you can be welcomed and accepted? Find spiritual guidance and support? And if some congregations are really practicing exclusion rather than inclusion, are they charitable institutions serving the public good or just private clubs? Private clubs don’t get tax exemptions.

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