WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has urged the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) not to adopt a proposed regulation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories for which discrimination in HUD programs is prohibited.
In comments filed with HUD, Anthony Picarello, USCCB general counsel, and Michael Moses, USCCB associate general counsel, noted that, when it comes to orientation and gender identity, “a protected classification for purposes of federal housing programs has no support in any Act of Congress and appears at odds with at least one other, namely, the Defense of Marriage Act.” They added that “the regulations may force faith-based and other organizations, 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.”
“By this, we do not mean that any person should be denied housing. Making decisions about shared housing, however, is another matter,” wrote Picarello and Moses. “Particularly here, faith-based and other organizations should retain the freedom they have always had to make housing placements in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs, including when it concerns a cohabiting couple, be it an unmarried heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple. Given the very large role that faith-based organizations play in HUD programs, the regulation, by infringing upon that freedom, may have the ultimate effect of driving away organizations with a long and successful track record in meeting housing needs, leaving beneficiaries without the housing that they sought or that the government intended them to receive.”