Sunday, November 18, 2012

Regarding LGBTQ Laws for Special Protections

The City of Omaha passed a special city ordinance last March that I can only assume was intended to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination.  What it really does is create an environment in which the faithful may be required by law to not just love and care for the sinner, which we already do, but to stop calling a sin a sin.  Otherwise, we will face fines, and possible jail time.  Below, my Pastor's article from today's bulletin.  He is truly a Courageous Priest!!!  Please join me in praying for him.

Thoughts from Our Pastor
Fr. Damien J. Cook


As you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal with your family or friends, please do not forget to offer grace and to beseech the Lord to protect the very right that allows you to pray legally and publicly in the first place.

Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions.  This has been true of the human experience throughout all of our earthly existence.  The founders knew this, and wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution to reflect the importance of being able to think, speak and act freely:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The first part of the First Amendment addresses our freedom to think, to believe freely, and to live in an active faith.  In our country today, our religious freedom is in peril. Rather than legislate away what we think, our elected representatives, Federal, State and Local, are trying to limit the ways in which we can express our thoughts in word and deed.

This is particularly apparent in the passage of the 2012 Omaha City Ordinance extending special “protections” to the GLBTQ community. Rather than protect the rights of all of those who call Omaha home, four members of the city council in conjunction with Mayor Jim Suttle, voted that those who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, or questioning any of the above, must be able to speak and act on that gender identity without any interference. 

For those in the business community, this means that choices about employees, the work environment, and the customers you serve will be affected. When it really counts, sexual liberty will effectively trump religious liberty with regard to these matters, as those with conscientious or religious objections may be forced to violate their beliefs in order to stay in business. For example, the wedding photographer who refuses to participate in a same-sex ceremony, the daycare provider who wishes not to hire a transgendered employee, the physician who does not wish to facilitate pregnancy for a same-sex couple, or an attorney who does not wish to facilitate adoption by a same-sex couple, may all find themselves to be in violation of the ordinance.

And even those not engaged in business may be affected.  For example, consider recent events concerning locker room access by a transgendered individual, as reported on November 6 by Eric Owens in the Daily Caller: “Citing non-discrim-ination law, officials at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, are standing by their decision to let a 45-year-old (transgendered) student... use the women’s locker room, and walk in front of girls as young as six.” According to the report, the police were called by parents of young children present in the locker room. The parents were told to apologize, and no arrests were made. You see, this transgendered person’s rights trumped the rights of all other persons, even young children. 

These are the actions being protected in Omaha. This is the regrettable policy our city has adopted. 

The First Amendment also gives us all the freedom to speak and write openly about the dangers of sin and the harm it does to all members of the family, the community, and our society. Let us be clear that the Church does not think that any person should be mistreated. Christ calls us to lovingly serve all of His creatures in His name. 

However, this city ordinance, in trying to protect a small group from discrimination, will necessarily infringe on the rights of others. By doing so, it will inhibit our duty as the Church, the Body of Christ, and people of good conscience from being able to speak and act freely in expression of the thoughts and teachings of the Catholic Church, the Fathers of our Faith, and their own consciences. 

We are not calling for persecution or discrimination against persons who do not share our faith or beliefs. We are simply asking that our community standards, as well as our cherished rights to exercise our religious liberty, be considered and protected. 

Legal precedent is being set in courtrooms across the country.  In numerous cases where discrimination has been claimed by members of the GLBTQ community, Catholics and Christians have been penalized for acting on their beliefs in their private businesses (See, for example, information accumulated by the Omaha Liberty Project, available at www.nebraskaheritagecoalition.org). Please step out and defend religious liberty by signing the petition requesting that this city ordinance be put to a vote of the whole community, rather than the decision of four city council representatives. Community standards should be truly representative of our community.
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