The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta issued the following statement in response to the ruling on Monday by the Supreme Court of the United States that sexual orientation is legally protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
We are overjoyed that The Supreme Court of the United States ruled yesterday that the hard-won victories and protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act do in fact extend to our LGTBQ siblings. We pray that this matter is forever settled in the law and in the soul of our country.
Our joy flows primarily from the fact that this ruling affirms what God has ordained and what we already know, that every human being is made in the image of God and has inherent, dignity, value and worth. And, that prejudice in every form is incompatible with faith in God and with a nation whose goal is greatness.
End of Statement
The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBT workers.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court, joining the majority, including Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision; exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Equality is a longstanding bulwark of the Episcopal Church, which began ordaining women in 1976, and LGBTQ clergy in 2009. Bishop Wright has been a leader in these inclusive stands since becoming the 10th Bishop of Atlanta in 2012.
In October 2014, Bishop Wright affirmed LGBTQ persons in his address to delegates of the annual Diocesan Council:
“You are made in the image of God exactly how you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your name is beloved; not shameful, not worthless, not sinful, not mistake. Your name is redeemed. Your name is friend.”
“We are many kinds. We are black and white, gay and lesbian and straight, some of us have money and education, others not so much; but we are first and foremost followers of Jesus and this was Jesus’ only request of us- that we would love the world because He loves the world, with all of its warts, all of them, and all of its wonders, all of them.”
Even before the Supreme Court in 2015, ruled same-sex marriage legal, Bishop Wright was among one of the first bishops in the Episcopal Church to allow clergy to perform marriage blessings. In response to the 2015 SCOTUS ruling parishes held celebrations such as this service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
The Diocese is a proud participant in the annual Pride Weekend held in Atlanta each October, holding a special mass, having a welcome booth at Piedmont Park and parishioners marching in the Pride Parade. Clergy and parishioners of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which is on the Peachtree Street parade path, provides restrooms and water and welcome to parade marchers.
The Diocese also maintains a list of parishes that welcome and affirm LGBTQ persons.