Lansing Update
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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
June 19, 2020

  In This Update:  
  • USCCB Reacts to SCOTUS Ruling that Redefines 'Sex' in Federal Law
  • Fight for Dismemberment Abortion Ban Continues 
  • MCC Supports Legislation to Protect Vulnerable Children 
  • Bishops Welcome Supreme Court Decision on DACA
  • The Word from Lansing: Reflecting on Care for Our Common Home
  USCCB Reacts to SCOTUS Ruling that Redefines 'Sex' in Federal Law  
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement from its president, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, on the decision today from the Supreme Court of the United States - combining Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., Altitude Express v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Opportunity Employment Comm'n. The justices ruled that the prohibition on "sex" discrimination in employment in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 now prohibits discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "transgender" status. The statement reads, in part:

"I am deeply concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively redefined the legal meaning of 'sex' in our nation's civil rights law. This is an injustice that will have implications in many areas of life. By erasing the beautiful differences and complementary relationship between man and woman, we ignore the glory of God's creation and harm the human family, the first building block of society. Our sex, whether we are male or female, is part of God's plan for creation and for our lives. As Pope Francis has taught with such sensitivity, to live in the truth with God's intended gifts in our lives requires that we receive our bodily and sexual identity with gratitude from our Creator. No one can find true happiness by pursuing a path that is contrary to God's plan. Every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and, without exception, must be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature."

John Bursch, the litigant for Harris Funeral Homes, wrote an op/ed in The Detroit News this week about the wide consequences of the Supreme Court's decision. The column also points to concerns with Michigan changing state law on this issue, saying:

"The Supreme Court's decision marks a radical change to federal law. I hope that the citizens of Michigan do not do the same on the state level. The historic ban on 'sex discrimination' has ensured equal opportunities for women and girls, and consistency for employers. It should continue to do both."
  Fight for Dismemberment Abortion Ban Continues  
In December, pro-life groups turned in 379,419 signatures of registered Michigan voters. In a previous Lansing Update, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) reported that Planned Parenthood had challenged the validity of signatures gathered in a petition drive to end dismemberment abortion. This week, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously to allow a second sample to be drawn for the Michigan Values Life petition to determine validity. The new sample will be larger, based on standard Bureau of Elections procedures. One point of concern for two members of the Board of State Canvassers involved thousands of additional signatures thrown out for "damage" by the Bureau of Elections, despite text on many of those petitions being completely legible. The news is welcome, and Michigan Values Life looks forward to continuing the process of the petition drive. Stay tuned for further updates.
  MCC Supports Legislation to Protect Vulnerable Children  
MCC supported two measures, House Bills 4783 and 5474, in the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee this week, which would deter abuse against vulnerable children if passed. Staff has previously supported similar measures that protect vulnerable adults.

The legislation in committee, sponsored by Representatives Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Julie Calley (R-Portland), defines "vulnerable children" as an unemancipated minor with a developmental disability (verbal or nonverbal), mental illness, or physical disability. The bills also increase penalties for those who abuse a vulnerable child. The committee unanimously approved HBs 4783 and 5474, which continue now to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
  Bishops Welcome Supreme Court Decision on DACA  
On Thursday, June 18, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion preventing the Trump Administration from terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA was implemented by Executive Order in 2012 and has enabled approximately 800,000 young people, who paid a fee and submitted to a background check, the opportunity to work legally, access educational opportunities, and not fear deportation. Recipients on average contribute over $42 billion annually to the U.S. economy. 

The 5-4 decision only ruled on the attempted rescission of the program in September 2017. It did not speak to the legality of the DACA program itself nor the soundness of the DACA program as a policy. As a result, the statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers, saying that "permanent legislative protection that overcomes partisanship and puts the human dignity and future of Dreamers first is long overdue."
  The Word from Lansing: Reflecting on Care for Our Common Home  
In May, Catholics celebrated the five-year anniversary of Pope Francis's encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home. The document added to the Church's rich body of environmental teaching and called for people of faith to respect the dignity of nature and all living creatures. The Word from Lansing column for June highlights several main themes that were articulated in the encyclical, their relevance today, and resources to help Michigan Catholics live out this teaching.
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