Bishops Fight for Right to Block Gays in Fed Housing

It's an issue of 'religious freedom,' say lawyers
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2011 2:22 AM CDT
Bishops Fight for Right to Block Gays in Fed Housing
Sign at a gay rights rally.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

(Newser) – An association of Catholic bishops is battling a pending regulation that would ban discrimination against anyone based on "sexual orientation or gender identity" in federally funded housing projects. The rules would force some religious groups to compromise their beliefs or quit the housing programs, argued lawyers for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Faith-based organizations should retain the freedom they have always had to make housing placements in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs," said a statement from the lawyers.

Gay discrimination in the housing market is a major problem, and as many as one in five transgender individuals are homeless because of housing discrimination, according to recent findings that concern HUD officials. "In considering the mounting evidence of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons, the department is concerned that its own programs may not be fully open to LGBT individuals and families," HUD said in a statement earlier this year. The Catholic church collects millions in public dollars for building and operating federally funded housing across the nation. For more on the controversy, check out the Daily Kos here. (Read more Catholic Church stories.)

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