“Jesus commanded us to love one another, and he listed no exceptions.”
Bishops of the five Episcopal dioceses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania today called on the state legislature to pass the Pennsylvania Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, and other public accommodations.
The bishops who signed the letter are:
- Bishop Clifton Daniel, 3rd, of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, which includes Philadelphia
- Bishop Robert R. Gepert, of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, which includes Harrisburg
- Bishop Dorsey W. M. McConnell, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
- Bishop Sean Rowe, who serves both the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which includes Erie, and the Diocese of Bethlehem, which includes the northeastern quarter of the state
The text of the letter follows:
"As bishops of the Episcopal Church and citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we urge the state legislature to pass the Pennsylvania Non-Discrimination Act (HB/SB 300).
"The proposed law would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations such as hotel lodgings or restaurant service. It would also preserve existing protections that insure faith communities have sole discretion in determining whom to hire and whom to include in their religious rituals.
"Our support for the Non-Discrimination Act is rooted in our faith. Sacred scripture teaches us that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore must be treated with dignity and respect. As Christians, we follow a savior who spent much of his earthly ministry among the cast off and the cast out, and we are called to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and the marginalized. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and he listed no exceptions.
"Were we not Christians, however, we would still support the Non-Discrimination Act. One does not have to profess a particular faith to understand that there is no justifiable reason to fire, evict or deny services to a citizen of our commonwealth based on considerations such as sex, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. It is simply unfair.
"The Episcopal Church has struggled faithfully for more than three decades to reform its own discriminatory policies and practices toward LGBT people. In that struggle we have come to understand what was already obvious to some of our fellow citizens all along: that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are gifts to our families, our friends and our communities. We are richer for their presence, and it is past time for us to acknowledge that we share a common humanity and therefore must be equal in the eyes of the law."
Yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel, 3rd, Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania
The Right Reverend Robert R. Gepert, Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
The Right Reverend Dorsey W. M. McConnell, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Right Reverend Sean Rowe, Bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem
Photo via flickr user Diocese of Bethlehem