Sign up now to rally when Supreme Court rules in LGBTQ case, leaders urge
An important Supreme Court decision about LGBTQ rights will come down soon. Church leaders are asking people to sign up now for a rally that will happen when it does.
That announcement could come anytime between now and June 30, said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer. He heads Health and Wholeness Advocacy Ministries for the United Church of Christ.
Schuenemeyer said a good turnout for the rally will make an important statement, whatever the ruling. “The media looks for a response from those affected by the decision,” he said. “Rallies happen after major decisions to get key messages out.
“They also are a way to demonstrate to legislators and the public, and advocate for justice. Decisions are made not only on the Constitution but also the laws, and legislators can change laws, particularly unjust laws even when they are upheld by the court.”
How Decision Day works
The UCC’s Justice and Local Church Ministries is among dozens of Decision Day cosponsors. So is the UCC’s Open and Affirming Coalition. They are urging people to sign up here for the rally and town hall. Those who do will be notified that morning. “The Court doesn’t announce in advance which opinions will be issued, so we won’t know Decision Day until that morning,” organizers wrote at the event’s website.
They said the day will go like this (all times EDT):
- 10 a.m.: The court begins to announce decisions, one every 10 minutes.
- 11 a.m.: An email notification goes out to those who signed up in advance.
- 7 p.m.: A “Virtual National Rally” will feature speakers and performances, live-streamed on DecisionDay.org, YouTube and Facebook.
- 8:30 p.m.: A “Virtual Town Hall.” “Our panel of experts will analyze the court opinion and how it will impact the lives of LGBTQ+ people,” organizers said. “Participants will have time for questions and answers.”
Background on the case
Here is what Fulton v. Philadelphia is about:
- A Philadelphia law says sexual orientation is not a reason to keep people from becoming foster parents.
- Catholic Social Services has a contract with the city to provide public child-welfare services. It refused to license same-sex couples as foster parents.
- The city told CSS to stop discriminating in that way or its contract would not be renewed.
- CSS sued the city in May 2018. It said being required to follow the city’s nondiscrimination requirement violated CSS’s free exercise of religion.
- The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on Nov. 4, 2020.
The UCC General Synod and three other religious bodies filed an amicus brief in Fulton v. Philadelphia in August 2020. The text of that brief — also signed by the Baptist Joint Committee, The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — is here.
“When religious organizations decide as part of their ministry to contract with a state or local government to assist in the delivery of child-welfare services, that is both laudable and valuable,” the brief said. “… At the same time, no organization — religious or secular — is entitled to veto the government’s choices on how a public program is to be run.
“Requiring government contractors to adhere to nondiscrimination policies in their performance of a public function does not burden religion. To the contrary, it protects the integrity of government-funded services and religious freedom. Granting government contractors a constitutional veto over nondiscrimination policies would harm the cause of religious liberty.”
It was just the latest of many times the UCC Synod has spoken out for LGBTQ rights over the years. Ten years ago, for example, it passed a resolution titled, “The Right of LGBT Parents to Adopt and Raise Children.”
“So many people rely on government-funded entities like CSS to fulfill essential needs — for food, housing, health care, and more,” the Decision Day organizers have said. “Fulton is poised to be a landmark case on the question of whether religiously based social welfare organizations that receive taxpayer dollars through local government contracts can be exempt from the government’s nondiscrimination laws.”
“Faith communities can play an important part in offering social services to the communities we serve; it is a great way to love and serve our neighbors,” Schuenemeyer said. “But when we do so under a government contract, those services must serve the public without discrimination. I don’t believe Jesus turned anyone away and I hope the decision from the court affirms this important value, keeping the door closed on discrimination.”
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