I trust you are all doing your best to stay healthy and stay cool! If you’re like me, this spring you spent your time in quarantine longing for the weather to warm up enough to get out of the house. Now that it’s summer and it’s safer to venture out I find myself avoiding being outside in the heat and I’m trying to spend as much time as possible inside in the air conditioning where it’s cool!
One advantage to spending more time indoors is I have more time for reading and keeping up with current events than I normally would this time of year. I’m very much looking forward to the book study on White Fragility being facilitated by Bishop Perry and Sister Vee. And, although most of the current event headlines are about the pandemic and current push for racial justice and equality, there have also been some other interesting and exciting things happening in the news that I may have missed had I not been staying inside.
One item of note was the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. On Monday, June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status, a major victory for advocates of gay rights and for the transgender rights movement — and a surprising one from an increasingly conservative court.
By a vote of 6-3, the court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status. It upheld rulings from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination was a form of sex discrimination.
“The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights,” said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. “The court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said, “The decision gives us hope that as a country we can unite for the common good and continue the fight for LGBTQ acceptance.”
Across the nation, 21 states have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Seven more provide that protection only to public employees. Two states, Michigan and Pennsylvania, have acquired such protections through executive orders, court rulings or binding decisions by their respective civil rights commissions. Those laws remain in force, but the Supreme Court’s ruling means federal law now provides similar protection for LGBTQ employees in the rest of the country.
Which brings us to this week’s resolution:
C022 Supporting Transgender Access
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church reaffirm its support for the enactment of laws at the local, state and federal level that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or the expression of one’s gender identity; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church support legislative, educational, pastoral, liturgical, and broader communal efforts that seek to end the pattern of violence against transgender people in general and transgender women in particular, calling attention especially to the rising violence against transgender women of color and gender non-conforming people; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church oppose all legislation that restricts public restroom, locker room and shower access for transgender and gender non-conforming people, recognizing that such bills disproportionately impact and contribute to a pattern of violence against transgender women and non-binary identified people; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church ask dioceses and parishes to remove barriers to full participation in congregational life by making their gender-specific facilities and activities fully accessible to all, regardless of gender identity and expression; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church direct the Office of Government Relations to advocate for passage of federal legislation that protects transgender and gender non-conforming persons from discrimination; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church urge dioceses, parishes, and Episcopalians to advocate for passage and enactment of similar legislation at the local and state level.
Although not a part of the final resolution, the explanation provided by the authors provides some valuable information:
This resolution reaffirms the support of The Episcopal Church for transgender people by calling upon the General Convention to lift its voice in response to the rise of anti-transgender rhetoric, legislation, and violence across the United States. It builds upon earlier General Convention resolutions (2009-C048, 2009-D012, 2012-D022, 2015-D028) and public statements by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies decrying this pattern, including the recent legislative efforts in Texas and the declared ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Building upon this foundation, this resolution calls us to recognize and respond to the lethal violence against transgender people that has risen sharply over the last several years, disproportionately impacting transgender women of color. It also challenges us to name how so-called “bathroom bills,” which have likewise increased markedly in recent years, are part of that same pattern of violence, impacting not only transgender people in general but more specifically targeting transgender women and girls in a horrific pattern of transmisogyny. Finally, this resolution calls upon Episcopalians to ensure that even as we direct our gaze and action outward, we also take stock of the gender-specific activities and facilities of our own congregations, making sure that they are fully accessible to people of all gender identities and expressions, binary and non-binary.
Founded on our baptismal vocation to persist in resisting evil, to strive for justice and peace among all, and to respect the dignity of every human being, this resolution urges us onward in building the beloved community.
Our transgender brothers and sisters deserve our love, respect and protection from the many acts of discrimination and violence they encounter just because of who they are. To learn more about the ways we can help, visit the websites for the National Center for Transgender Equality, Teaching Tolerance, the Spectrum Center at U of M, and Stand with Trans.
Let us pray,
Spirit of life and love that resides within and among us, we enter this moment with all that we are, with an open heart, and with a love for justice.
We hold in love and prayer all transgender people, so many of whom live under the weight of violence, fear, and intolerance. We hold in love and prayer all the ways that transgender people have survived and thrived in a hostile world. We hold in love and prayer all who recognize the significance of gender justice for all people.
We who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes. We pray for the dawn of a new day when the very humanity of trans people is no longer called into question or ignored. We pray that physical, emotional, and spiritual violence will come to an end. We pray that a spirit of compassion and care will fill us to overflowing, that we may have the capacity to listen, learn, and grow not only in our awareness but also in our willingness to act. We pray for teachers, spiritual leaders, social workers, lawyers, and all people who heed the call to support Trans liberation, Trans leadership, and Trans visibility. May they ultimately lean into the Light of truth and justice, offering hope to Trans and gender nonconforming youth and adults.
We commit and recommit to creating a world where people of all genders know peace, love, and justice. We commit and recommit to living lives of compassion and care for all of humanity. We commit and recommit to the healing work of relationship-building that will help every person know, no matter their gender or sexuality, that they are loved and valued.
~ The Rev. Diana Walworth, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council