PA bishops support LGBT civil rights act

Bishop Jeremiah Park, leader of the Susquehanna Conference, will join other speakers calling for civil rights protection for LGBT persons at a news conference in the Pennsylvania State Capitol building on Monday, Feb. 3 at 12 noon.

The news conference is called to support the “Pennsylvania Values Act,”* Senate Bill 224, which would add LGBT persons to groups who are ensured legally of civil rights protection under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Bishop Park, who is based in Harrisburg, cosigned a general legislative letter Jan. 13 with Bishops Peggy Johnson and Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, of the Eastern and Western PA conferences respectively.

“This is an important moral issue of our times,” the letter states. “It calls our state to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. Pennsylvania remains the only state in the Northeast without these important protections, which harms countless LGBTQIA+ citizens in the state. We believe that when all people are protected from discrimination, our entire community is strengthened with respect and mutual regard.”

The letter, which Bishop Johnson calls “timely” for United Methodists, points out that there is “ongoing and complicated conversations within our denomination about the morality of same-sex relationships and marriages.

“However,” it asserts, “we have been very clear in our Book of Resolutions that all people are of sacred worth as children of God and should experience the freedom and dignity of participating in civil society as equals under the law.”

Park will read the joint letter when he leads faith-based and community advocates in addressing the news conference. However, he will not respond to questions. The event will be video recorded and livestreamed on the Facebook and Instagram pages of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress.

Read the three bishops’ joint letter

*The Pennsylvania Values Act calls for protection of all Pennsylvanians by ensuring “that state and local resources are not used for mass deportations, separation of families or to divide Pennsylvanians on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, or national or ethnic group.”

Dai Morgan, coordinator of United Methodist Advocacy in PA, provided information for this story.