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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out against proposed regulations to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in federally funded housing.
The regulations, being considered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are "at odds" with the Defense of Marriage Act and could force faith-based programs receiving HUD funds to violate their religious beliefs by providing housing to gay couples or unmarried straight couples, lawyers for the Catholic group said in comments filed with HUD last Friday.
HUD released the regulations for public comment in January, with Secretary Shaun Donovan calling the nondiscrimination provisions "a fundamental issue of fairness." They do not require congressional approval, but HUD officials can adopt them as they see fit after considering public input. They would apply to both rental housing and homeownership programs that receive HUD assistance.
The bishops' group does not want to see any individual denied housing, but shared housing is another matter, wrote general counsel Anthony Picarello and associate general counsel Michael Moses. They said they fear that faith-based groups will be forced, "as a condition of participating in HUD programs and in contravention of their religious beliefs, to facilitate shared housing arrangements between persons who are not joined in the legal union of one man and one woman."
A Daily Kos contributor commented that issue indicates Catholic leaders "are desperately afraid that they won't be able to participate in public programs and practice their private discrimination." He added: "It seems to me if the Church is going to involve itself in the public business of helping the less fortunate, it might contemplate whether it's appropriate to be sorting their charity cases into piles labeled 'worthy' and 'unworthy.'"
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