A Catholic diocese throws down the gauntlet on all things LGBTQ+

Two of the worst Supreme Court opinions are Obergefell, finding an imaginary constitutional right to gay marriage, and Bostock, reading transgenderism into Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, the Diocese of Cleveland, by announcing that it is abandoning all LGBTQ+ ideology and practices, may give rise to a Supreme Court case that wipes out those legal abominations.

In 2015, in Obergefell, Justice Anthony Kennedy concluded that, hidden deep within the Constitution, probably in the same place in which the Supreme Court once found a right to abortion, there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage. The decision reads more like a romance novel than it does a legal document, despite periodic references to the Constitution.  

Kennedy’s writing was slop, but it was slop that set up a very disturbing constitutional crisis: namely, the moment when a same-sex couple sues a conservative religious institution for refusing to marry it. When I mentioned this problem to a leftist lawyer, he scoffed. Much as the Catholic church opposed abortion, he pointed out, that had never caused a constitutional crisis. I responded that the Catholic church didn’t perform abortions.

Image: The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland, Ohio, by Notordinaryatall. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Then, in 2019, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the decision in Bostock. In it, he held that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when it used the word “sex,” meant “gender identity.” This violated the first rule of statutory interpretation, which is that you must consider what the legislature had in mind when it enacted a law—and I think we can all agree that, back in 1964, no one in the legislature was thinking about so-called “transgenderism.” They were, instead, thinking about sex in terms of the gender binary—male and female—that is both a constant in human biology and the Judeo-Christian belief system that built America. Again, a head-on collision with a religious institution seems inevitable.

Gorsuch’s decision is especially bad because it’s weaving so-called transgenderism into the warp and woof of American life. It’s why every corporation in America now has a transgender policy. That’s not just because corporations are woke (they are); it’s because if they don’t have such a policy, they’ve violated the Civil Rights Act and run the risk of getting a lawsuit and a knock on the door from the EEOC.

But the Diocese of Cleveland just did something that is great on its face, and that may finally force the Supreme Court to revisit these constitutionally corrupt decisions: It said that its Christian values must control when it comes to the question of human sex and sexuality. According to the Diocese, there are only two sexes, and heterosexuality is the only appropriate relationship.

The Bishop’s new “Parish & School Policy on Issues of Sexuality and Gender Identity” is remarkably clear. Its opening paragraph establishes that the rules it states are grounded in divine revelation. It acknowledges that people suffer from gender dysphoria or confusion and expresses sympathy for their sufferings but says that their belief “is contrary to the divinely revealed reality of our true, God-given human nature.” Compassion is called for but not more.

While the Diocese will not bar the door against those who claim same-sex attraction or gender confusion,

those persons who choose to openly express disagreement with Church teaching on matters of sex, sexuality, and /or gender in an inappropriate or scandalous way, or who act in ways contrary to the teachings of the Church, may be subject to restrictions on his or her participation in the life of the institution or, in appropriate cases, to disciplinary action, both for that person's own good and/or the good of others.

The policy applies to everyone affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland—employees, volunteers, students, etc.

With this principle in place, the Diocese articulated firm rules:

  • If a minor expresses gender dysphoria, any institution within the Diocese must notify the parents. The exception is the reasonable belief that this will subject the child to physical abuse, in which case the dysphoria must be reported to the Diocese Legal Office and designated moral theologians.
  • All pronouns and names “must reflect a person’s God-given biological sex…” There are no preferred pronouns in the Cleveland Diocese.
  • Bathrooms and other single-sex facilities are open only to members of that biological sex.
  • Single-sex programs, institutions, and activities are open only to members of that biological sex.
  • Only male-female couples may attend dances within the Diocese in a romantic capacity, although friends, groups, and individuals may attend.
  • Clothes are to reflect a person’s biological sex.
  • People may not engage in public LGBTQ+ conduct, including displaying LGBTQ+ paraphernalia and insignia.
  • No one within the diocese may go through any form of “gender transition.”
  • All records are to reflect a person’s biological sex.

It’s amazing that it took this long for a religious institution to stand up for religious principles. I hope the Diocese is braced for the inevitable lawsuits from activist employees or parents—and when those lawsuits come, I hope the Diocese has the resolve to take them to the Supreme Court if need be. Maybe, then, the Supreme Court will reverse the constitutional monstrosities that are Obergefell and Bostock.

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