Bishops love the ladies.

USCCB LogoJust in time for International Women’s Day, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement opposing the newly-signed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Predictably, one of their chief objections is due to the new law’s explicit provision that no victim can be excluded from protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  They’re claiming that, while nobody deserves to be abused or victimized, by legally identifying those classes as protected, the institution of marriage is once again undermined by the LGBT community.  In fact, not only is traditional marriage threatened, but the entire “meaning and importance of sexual difference” is undermined.

Yes, my friends, the gays are just that powerful.  The simple act of acknowledging their protection under the law can actually tear down religious institutions and their rigid, arbitrary definitions of human sexuality. And we can’t have that.

Delightfully, the fine fellows of the USCCB don’t stop there. In addition to the terrible consequences of legally recognizing LGBT citizens as actual human beings, they have another example of how protecting victims of violence is a bad thing; the new law “omits language to protect the conscience rights of faith-based service providers to victims of human trafficking” – in other words, this law focuses on actually providing services that such victims might require, like unfettered access to women’s health services that would be forbidden by some “faith-based” providers.

What?! Putting the needs of victims before the vacant consciences of these potential recipients of federal funding?  Unacceptable!

Contrary to the beliefs of the USCCB, there are some issues that have absolutely nothing to do with enshrining their dearly-held prejudices. If there are organizations interested in providing services to victims of human trafficking, they should be judged on their merits. And yes, the ability to provide the full spectrum of services to these women is an issue of merit, not religious discrimination. Your organization is welcome to cherish these backward opinions about women’s health, but it is not welcome to any federal funding for those ideas. Call me a cynical lady-atheist, but the very fact that they’re fighting for exemptions for these faith-based service providers seems more like a grab for federal funds than an actual concern for the victims they claim to want to help.

The craven grandstanding and cries for attention from the USCCB would be amusing if they weren’t so often treated as a respectable organization in discussions of national policymaking. Victims of violence deserve protection, and they shouldn’t be treated like pawns in the Catholic hierarchy’s continuing attempts to remain relevant.

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