DignityUSA Calls on U.S. Bishops to Condemn Violence Directed towards LGBTQ+ Community, Demands End to Anti-LGBTQ+ Diocesan Policies
November 22, 2022. In a November 21 letter to the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in the wake of the attack on Club Q, a Catholic LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization called for the bishops to explicitly condemn anti-LGBTQ+ violence. DignityUSA advocates for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQIA people in the Catholic church and society.
The letter opens: “In light of this weekend’s attack at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that killed five children of God, injured at least eighteen, and left countless people across the country traumatized, we are calling on you to speak out strongly against this attack, to explicitly condemn violence against LGBTQ+ people, and to take other steps to help end the horrific violence being inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized communities in our country.”
The letter also calls on the bishops to curtail actions seen as helping to inflame anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment: “We further ask that USCCB call for an immediate cessation of the promulgation of diocesan policies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people by excluding us from schools, service in liturgical or other roles in our faith communities, accessing our church’s sacraments, or being accorded the respect of being referred to by the names and pronouns that reflect our identities. These policies are harmful to individuals and are contributing to the climate in which LGBTQ+ people experience dehumanization and marginalization. Support of the USCCB and statewide bishops’ conferences for legislative and regulatory restrictions on our community, especially transgender people, must also end. It is blatantly discriminatory and is inconsistent with the beliefs of the majority of US Catholics, regardless of party affiliation. Tragically, some people believe the policies and political agenda of church officials justify violence against LGBTQ+ people.”
The letter’s authors note that the LGBTQ+ community is not the only group that has experienced increased discrimination in recent years. They write: “Finally, we ask that you speak out more strongly against the discrimination, hate crimes, and violence plaguing many communities in our country, including People of Color, Jewish people, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people. A number of Catholic religious communities have already done this. Some of their statements might provide models for the Conference.
The letter also stated: “Divisions and violence based on race, religion, or identity have deep and tragic consequences for individuals and our social fabric. We believe our church must stand in the forefront of efforts to create a climate where all are respected, safe, and have their human rights respected. Specific actions like those we have outlined are needed to achieve this goal.”
DignityUSA President Meli Barber, Vice-President Martin Witchger, and Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke sent the letter on behalf of the organization. Founded in 1969, DignityUSA is the world’s oldest and largest Catholic group advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community.