US Supreme Court cases have ‘major significance’ for Ireland

The inside of the Supreme Court of the United States

Two Supreme Court rulings, one on education and another on gay and gender rights, have “major significance for faithful Catholics in Ireland,” says Cork priest Fr Michael Martin.

The top US court ruled that employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are breaking the country’s civil rights laws.

The Supreme Court said federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fr Michael Martin said these rulings could make it difficult, especially for institutions with a Catholic ethos.

“The US is the always the frontrunner on these issues and Ireland typically follows suit,” Fr Martin said. “The ruling is clearly to the advantage of a secular progressive ideology and furthering its goals.

“It has huge implications for things like hiring decisions, but also for sports-eligibility rules, government grants and many others.

“It could mean that, where a religious institution asks employees to remain consistent with Church teaching on gender and sexuality, they could be opened up to litigation. It’s crazy.”

The second ruling, on education, is more promising says Fr Martin. This ruling maintains the right of parents to choose a school appropriate to their children.

“This ruling could bode well for our own side of the pond,” said Fr Martin. “It upholds the right of parents to make an informed choice about the type of education they would like their children to have.

“There’s a major debate coming down the line about schooling, about removing religion, introducing dubious sexual politics, or perhaps creating new denominational schools,” Fr Martin continued.

“As we look to future of Catholic education, the right to parental choice is going to become more important.”