TOLEDO — The following is a statement from Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo regarding the Equality Act.

“The dignity of the human person is the foundational principle of all Catholic social teaching. The Catholic Church therefore honors every individual’s right to be free of unjust discrimination.

“The Equality Act purports to protect people experiencing same-sex attraction, or gender discordance, from unjust discrimination. While this is a worthy purpose, the Equality Act does not serve it.

“Rather, the Equality Act serves as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to promote a pro-abortion agenda and impose gender ideologies that dismiss the truth and beauty of male and female complementarity, and the very nature of the human person, disregarding the convictions of millions of Americans who hold that marriage is between a man and a woman. In effect, the Equality Act discriminates against people of faith.

“Specifically, the Equality Act:

• exempts itself from the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, in an explicit and unprecedented departure from one of America’s founding principles, thereby infringing on religious freedom and making it more difficult for individuals to live out their faith.

• forces religiously operated spaces and establishments, such as church halls, to either host functions that violate their beliefs or close their doors to their communities.

• requires women and girls to compete against men and boys in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower facilities with men and boys.

• forces faith-based charities that serve all people to violate their religious beliefs, and threatens the welfare of thousands of beneficiaries of charitable services, such as shelters and foster care agencies, by forcing a multitude of them to be shut down.

• jeopardizes existing prohibitions on the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortion, likely pressuring or even mandating the performance of abortions by health care providers in violation of their consciences, and ultimately ending more human lives.

• hinders quality health care, by forcing health care professionals, against their best medical judgment, to support treatments and procedures associated with ‘gender transition.’

The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of human services in the United States, helping millions of Americans in need through its parishes, schools, hospitals, shelters, legal clinics, food banks and charities. The Equality Act would directly endanger the Catholic Church’s ability to provide these services.

“I urge you to contact your representatives to oppose this legislation by visiting https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/80967/Respond. Furthermore, since this legislation has already passed the House of Representatives, please call our two Ohio senators at their national or local offices.

“United as Catholics we must stand for the dignity of the human person, both born and pre-born. Furthermore, we must defend the biological, biblical and spiritual reality that humankind has been created male and female in the image and likeness of God. We cannot remain silent in the face of efforts to nullify the exercise of religious freedom in our nation.”

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