US bishops warn Supreme Court has redefined legal meaning of ‘sex’

US bishops warn Supreme Court has redefined legal meaning of ‘sex’ Archbishop José Gomez

The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has lamented a decision by the country’s Supreme Court this week on the legal definition of sex in civil rights law.

Archbishop José Gomez issued a statement in response to a case on whether sexual identity and gender identity is covered by laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sex.

“I am deeply concerned that the US 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,” he said on Monday.

The Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot sack workers because of their sexual orientation or self-determined gender identity, even while dissenting justices opined the court was legislating from the bench.

The decision considered a trio of discrimination cases before the court, two of which involved employees who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation in Bostock vs Clayton County and Altitude Express Inc. vs Zarda.

A third case, Harris Funeral Homes Inc. vs EEOC, involved a man who lost his job at a Michigan funeral home after he had gender-transition surgery and returned to work dressed as a woman; the funeral home had sex-specific dress code policies for employees.

The question at issue was whether or not protections against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also applied to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This week the court’s majority ruled that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII”.


In November, the US bishops’ conference had asked the court not to extend Title VII protections to sexual orientation and gender identity because to do so would “redefine a fundamental element of humanity”.

“By erasing the beautiful differences and complementary relationship between man and woman,” Archbishop Gomez said, “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,” he continued.

“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 neighbours from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature,” the Archbishop of Los Angeles said.