The Senate Judiciary Committee held its hearing for the Equality Act on Wednesday, including testimonies from citizen witnesses, as well as United States Representatives and Senators. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (IA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, discussed his personal religious beliefs in a statement at the hearing.
Grassley stated, “We all agree that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect … We’re all human beings and need to treat each other with kindness and compassion, and for some of ya, it may be sentimental for me to say that my guide is from the Bible. ‘Love God,’ that first law. The second law — ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“I question whether that is what this bill truly does. I strongly suspect that it actually would dictate what women, girls, schools, churches, doctors and others must believe,” Grassley continued.
“I want to hear from experts and ordinary Americans with life experiences. We need to consider the perspective of everyone who will be affected by this bill’s sweeping language.”
Proponents of the bill see it as a way to put protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals into the Civil Rights Act and enshrine equal treatment for members of those groups across the country. However, the bill’s opponents charge that it limits religious freedom and would directly disadvantage and potentially harm biological females.
Late last month, the bill passed the House of Representatives in a 224-206 vote. The Daily Wire reports, “The Democratic caucus voted unanimously in favor of the bill along with three Republican House members who sided with the Democrats against the rest of their caucus.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement, “We are witnessing the greatest assault on religious freedom, biological reality, and parental rights ever seen in the U.S. Congress … The sweeping Equality Act expands the definition of ‘public accommodation’ in many instances to include churches and schools – including religious schools. The bill redefines what it means to be ‘male and female.’ It politicizes medicine and forces doctors to violate their consciences. And it redefines religious freedom into something that would be unrecognizable to our Founding Fathers.”
Mary Rice Hasson, the Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, testified at the hearing on Wednesday and discussed matters of faith in regards to the details of the Equality Act.
Hasson said, “Let me begin by stating clearly that I believe unjust discrimination is always wrong. All Americans should be treated fairly. Affirming the dignity of all human persons is central to my Catholic faith.”
“So too is another truth about the human person: we are created male or female from conception … biological sex matters, in law, medicine, and, for many of us, in the practice of our faith.”
Hasson continued, “The Equality Act goes where no federal law has gone before: it redefines sex with no reference to biological distinctions between male and female,” adding, “The Equality Act defines sex as stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy, sexual desires, and self-perception or gender identity. Gender identity, in turn, is defined by characteristics regardless of sex.”
“The Equality Act thus cements into the law an ideological belief that identity is self-defined, regardless of the sexed body. It suppresses opposing beliefs — and punishes those who dissent.”
The bill will require 60 votes in the Senate in order to pass.