United Church Homes condemns Trump’s transgender military ban, Justice Department’s position on LGBT protections

Rev. Ken Daniel


United Church Homes has joined the United Church of Christ and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) in condemning the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people in the military and the Justice Department’s position that civil rights law does not bar job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We stand with our brothers and sisters in the United Church of Christ in calling for equal rights in employment and housing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender-fluid people,” United Church Home President and CEO the Rev. Kenneth Daniel said. “United Church Homes has adopted a policy of inclusion where all are welcome, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, age, genetic information or ancestry.”

The Trump administration is working on policy guidelines to ban transgender from people serving in the military after President Trump issued a series of tweets, saying American forces could not afford the medical costs and “disruption” of transgender service members. But many organizations, including the United Church of Christ and the Open and Affirming Coalition, have publicly condemned the ban.

“Our transgender neighbors live in a climate of fear. Transgender women of color are dying on the streets of our cities, and 30 states fail to provide any legal protection for transgender citizens from discrimination in housing, employment or public services. The President has now banned transgender Americans from military service ‘in any capacity,’ including more than 15,000 who are currently serving their country on active or reserve duty,” UCC officials said in a statement.

UCC officials continued: “Discrimination in any form violates our values as followers of Jesus Christ and as Americans who believe in liberty and justice for all. Transgender citizens in uniform have proven time and again their dedication to this country. They deserve our support and respect.”

SAGE, the nation’s largest and oldest organization serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders, responded in a statement, saying the organization would not stand by as the Trump administration continues its attempts to erase the transgender community – this time from the ranks of the U.S. military, in which they have served for generations.

“President Trump’s most recent anti-transgender policy statement discounts and disrespects the professionalism of all of our troops, undercuts our national security, and harms our country,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Our military and our nation are better than this. SAGE is telling the Trump administration loud and clear that transgender people cannot and will not be erased.”

United Church Homes, a nonprofit, faith-based organization based in Marion, Ohio, is a leading senior living provider with 70 communities throughout 14 states and two Native American tribal nations.

“LGBTQ seniors fear that they have to go back into the closet as they age. UCH seeks to provide LGBTQ-affirming communities and services where people are safe to live and enjoy their senior years,” Daniel said.

In May 2012, United Church Homes declared the organization Open and Affirming (ONA) to the LGBT community and has made advocacy for LGBT seniors a priority.

Earlier this year, UCH joined Ohio Business Competes and the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, coalitions of employers and religious organizations statewide that want to end discrimination against the LGBT community and support nondiscrimination legislation.

UCH was the second faith-based organization and one of more than 60 companies at that time to make a commitment to the Ohio Business Competes campaign and among several dozen religious organizations to support the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, according to Equality Ohio.

“United Church Homes is an organization that values, respects and is inclusive of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, sexual identity or sexual orientation,” Daniel said. “Too often, LGBT employees face discrimination in the workplace and are fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. United Church Homes stands with the LGBT community, businesses, organizations and all of those who support equality for everyone.”

The Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, executive director of United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, said the ONA designation sets UCH apart from other church-affiliated organizations.

She also said it’s important to allow employees to be who they are.

“It’s as much about our residents as it is about our employees,” Long-Higgins said.

United Church Homes has been “Celebrating the Spirit” of seniors for a century. The nonprofit, faith-based organization is one of the largest providers of senior living, with more than 1,500 dedicated staff serving 4,500 residents of all faiths in 70 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations. UCH is in covenant with the United Church of Christ and welcomes residents of all faiths.

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