The just-passed Equality Act no doubt sounds wonderful to many. Who, after all, can disagree with a bill to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation”? But it’s a wretched bill, one that would have many terrible consequences.
Passed Thursday by a 224-206 vote, with only three Republicans in support, the legislation now goes to the Senate, where it’s expected (but not guaranteed) to fail. After all, the same bill also passed the House early last year, only to die in the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to get beyond that chamber’s filibuster. With a 50-50 party split in the Senate, that makes it unlikely to pass this time, too.
But, like a bad meal, the Equality Act is likely to come up again.
As we said, there’s nothing wrong with “equality” for anyone under the law. Our Constitution, indeed, guarantees that under the 14th Amendment. It’s a bedrock of American jurisprudence.
But the Equality Act of today has nothing to do with “equal rights,” at least as most Americans would understand them.
In principle, the law bars employment and other discrimination against LGBTQ workers. In reality, it disenfranchises large swaths of American society, from religious institutions and women’s rights groups to small businesses and nonprofits.
Legal legerdemain is key here. The proposed law erases biologically based sex definitions and protections under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and replaces them with the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity,” a legal definition so broad as to be almost meaningless.
So if you believe in traditional marriage and sex roles, or don’t agree there are 64 different genders (or even 112, as some assert), you now officially and legally become a bigot, for all that implies.
The Federalist explains how this works:
It’s all made possible by massively expanding the government’s definition of bigotry, as well as the definition of public gathering places to include any place that ‘provides exhibition, entertainment, recreation, exercise, amusement, public gathering or public display.’ When you add the above to ‘any establishment that provides a good, service, or program,’ you’ve put nearly the entirety of American civic life under the thumb of radical activists.
That’s right. Anyone, anywhere, who dissents from the most radical redefinition of gender and the family in history can be sued, harassed and made a pariah, with little recourse.
Feminists are waking up to what this means to them. Women’s sports already feature biological men who “identify” as women. From powerlifting to track and field and martial arts, men identifying as women have already won at least 15 “women’s” championships. Women’s locker rooms and showers are next, as are public restrooms.
Worse still, shelters for battered women and children could soon include biological males who call themselves women. Other current “women’s only” facilities will soon be forced to do the same.
Meanwhile, Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups worry that religious schools, hospitals and charities will have to do things that violate their beliefs. For example, staff members at religious-based clinics, doctors and nurses who refuse to abort unborn children would be in legal jeopardy. And faith-based adoption agencies that place children into traditional families with a married mother and father might have to close.
So might private schools that now hire staff and create curricula to support their goals. In particular, religious schools fear being required to teach ideas of marriage and the family that are antithetical to their deeply held beliefs. Those that don’t might lose accreditation or access to federal student loans.
This is a straight-up violation of the First Amendment, which protects both speech and religious belief: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Supporters note that 320 major companies representing more than $5.7 trillion in revenues, including such giants as Apple, Amazon, Google, IBM, Facebook, Twitter, Chevron and 3M, favor the legislation.
But so what? “Woke” theology has already infected much of corporate America, which has tax breaks, lobbying clout and ties to far-left Democrats to protect. And it’s now the official creed of the Democrats.
Meanwhile, many if not most small businesses, charities and nonprofits oppose the legislation, knowing they’re always just one specious lawsuit away from going under. Just ask any women’s nail or hair salon, or your local women’s clothing store.
The bottom line is, this radical, divisive bill won’t unite us, but further divide us. And it’s a sad reminder that we’re only ever one election away from truly crazy things emerging from Congress. The Equality Act is one of them. What’s next?
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board