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HAMMER: House Democrats’ ‘Equality Act’ Is Both Unnecessary And Unacceptable For Religious Liberty

The Jeffersonian formulation in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal," realized and brought to fruition nearly a century later by Lincoln, serves as the nation's founding creed. And while Americans should all be thankful for the republic's deeply embedded commitment to equality under the law, we should also all be terrified of the increasingly unhinged version of radical über-egalitarianism that cultural Marxists and post-liberal leftists deploy to bring their political foes under complete submission.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has proclaimed H.R.5, the "Equality Act," as a top legislative priority for the current Congress. This putatively anodyne but actually harrowing piece of legislation would not only add sexual orientation and "gender identity" protections to our nation's civil rights laws, but would browbeat religious dissenters into submission without any remotely resembling proper dispensations. Here is the full summary of the Act on Congress.gov, as provided by Congressional Research Service:

This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.

The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual's gender identity.

As religious liberty expert Ryan Anderson notes for The Daily Signal, the Equality Act would be seriously deleterious for religious dissenters who refuse to capitulate to the emerging post-modern societal consensus with respect to sexual orientation and "gender identity" affirmation. Per Anderson, here are but a handful of pernicious agenda items that the Act, by adding sexual orientation and "gender identity" to the panoply of protected classes under our civil rights statutory regime, would legislatively mandate:

  • The Equality Act would force employers to pay for sex "reassignment" procedures in their health insurance plans, and require medical professionals to perform them.
  • The Equality Act would force all schools and businesses to open their women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and sports teams to boys who "identify as" girls and to men who "identify as" women.
  • The Equality Act could be used to force the military to pay for "reassignment" procedures and force the military to accept recruits suffering from gender dysphoria who are not combat-ready.
  • The Equality Act would force faith-based adoption agencies to either violate their conviction that every child deserves both a mother and a father or to stop serving children in need altogether.
  • The Equality Act would force a variety of small business owners to violate their beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender.

As Daily Wire contributor Rabbi Yaakov Menken of the conservative Coalition for Jewish Values noted in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), these various provisions "would require recognition of the gender a person prefers to be, rather than the biological organism he or she was created to be, [and] would demand [religious Americans] cease to operate in accordance with our sincerely-held beliefs, moral values and religious education — expressly violating our religious liberty." But these heavy-handed governmental provisions would pose massive problems not only for religious Christians, Jews, and Muslims — they are equally problematic for any employer, surgeon, or small business owner who believes that "sex" and "gender" are merely biological synonyms and that transgenderism is scientifically, psychologically, or morally problematic. As Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro phrased it at National Review last November, this societal debate entails "competing priorities" of psychological "subjectivity" versus biological "objectivity":

There are real-world consequences to the deliberate rewriting of basic biology, and the substitution of subjectivity for objectivity. It means rewriting business operation, school curricula, medical treatment standards, censorship rules, and even parenting. Sympathy for those who suffer from gender dysphoria is obviously proper — no one wants transgender people harmed or targeted. But sympathy for a mental disorder should not trump either objective reality or competing priorities based on those objective realities.

But the Equality Act would affirmatively short-circuit this crucial societal debate and legally codify a regime that mandates obeisance to psychological subjectivity over biological objectivity. Rather than mandate a national solution to such a pressing problem, in similar fashion to the legally egregious constitutionalization of same-sex nuptials in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, it would be far preferable to mollify tensions within our deeply divided and disaggregated society by allowing states and localities to determine what — if any — additional anti-discrimination policies are most appropriately tailored for the preferences of their localized populaces.

In the year 2019, there is simply no compelling societal reason for such a heavy-handed, broad brush-painting governmental overreach measure. The situation facing homosexuals and those with gender dysphoria today does not even share the faintest trace in common with, for example, blacks in the Jim Crow South at the time of the ratification of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On the contrary, the homosexual and transgender rights movements have the near-unanimous backing of all the culturally powerful institutional actors in America today, from Hollywood to the academy to the media to Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms. Indeed, rather than expand our anti-discrimination statutory edifice, there is actually a more compelling intellectual case to be made that America has advanced so far since the mid-century civil rights movement so as to justify the paring back of large swaths of the dubiously constitutional Civil Rights Act regime. The marketplace, in the year 2019, is increasingly perfectly capable of rooting out actual, legitimate discrimination without the coercive imprimatur of the federal government.

The Equality Act, to be sure, is likely a dead letter in the Senate. But the Equality Act will likely pass the Democratic-controlled House. And by advocating for the trampling of religious dissenters' rights and the enforcement of monolithic cultural submissiveness to the hegemonic heavy hand of post-modern sexuality, the Democratic Party will once again reveal itself to be the radically secular, identity politics-centric, illiberal partisan vessel that it has so transparently become.

 
 
 

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