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During the campaign trail, Joe Biden stated that the Equality Act would be one of his legislative objectives during the first 100 days of his presidency. Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the bill.
After it was introduced by House Democrats last week, Biden said, “I urge Congress to swiftly pass this historic legislation. Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”
But what does this controversial bill actually say, and what would it mean for “equality” in the United States?
Known as the “Equality Act,” this bill aims to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.” In general, it would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to “explicitly prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
What makes this introduction different to previous instances is that it follows the Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court Decision which ruled that “the protections guaranteed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the basis of sex also extend to discrimination against lesbian, gay, and transgender Americans.”
Therefore, this act would “explicitly enshrine those nondiscrimination protections into law for sexual orientation and gender identity,” rather than providing these protections under the category of “sex.”
The Equality Act would expand protection against discrimination provided by the Civil Rights Act (such as employment and housing) to also cover federally funded programs and “public accommodations,” which includes retail stores, online retailers, stadiums, and transportation service providers.
As an example, this would mean that businesses targeted in discrimination suits for refusing certain services based on religious objections would be impacted by the Equality Act, such as florists or bakeries.
The Equality Act would also supersede the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed in 1993 which “set a higher bar for the government to defend laws if people argued those laws infringed upon religious freedom.”
Findings and Purpose
In Section 2 of the bill, multiple “findings” of Congress are listed, which provide us with an ideological contextual foundation.
The first finding is that “Discrimination can occur on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes. Each of these factors alone can serve as the basis for discrimination, and each is a form of sex discrimination,” which is an objective statement of fact. After all, discrimination can occur on the basis of any characteristic or category, real or imaginary.
Further obvious tautologies are provided, such as “A single instance of discrimination may have more than one basis.” However, the “findings” which follow move away from the objective and into the subjective and, arguably, unsubstantiated.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (referred to as “LGBTQ”) people commonly experience discrimination in securing access to public accommodations—including restaurants, senior centers, stores, places of or establishments that provide entertainment, health care facilities, shelters, government offices, youth service providers including adoption and foster care providers, and transportation. Forms of discrimination include the exclusion and denial of entry, unequal or unfair treatment, harassment, and violence. This discrimination prevents the full participation of LGBTQ people in society and disrupts the free flow of commerce.”
This “finding” applies both a broad categorization to “LGBTQ” people — despite obvious differences between, for example, sexual orientation and gender identity — in order to cast as wide a net as possible when it comes to defining “discrimination.” Vague terms like “unequal or unfair” treatment lack the specificity needed if counter concerns (such as religious freedom) are to be respected or considered.
The lines between the past and present are also intentionally blurred, with the recognizable and common goal of using the objective immoralities of the past to justify “solutions” in the present.
“Individuals who are LGBTQ, or are perceived to be LGBTQ, have been subjected to a history and pattern of persistent, widespread, and pervasive discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity by both private sector and Federal, State, and local government actors, including in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. This discrimination inflicts a range of tangible and intangible harms, sometimes even including serious physical injury or death. An explicit and comprehensive national solution is needed to address this discrimination, including the full range of remedies available under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The Democratic party’s foray into subjectivity continues throughout the “findings section,” with every difficulty faced by LGBTQ people defined as “discrimination” — for example, credit checks which “reveal a former name.”
Homelessness is also linked directly to discrimination, without evidence, saying “According to other studies, transgender people have half the homeownership rate of non-transgender people and about 1 in 5 transgender people experience homelessness. Another survey found that 82 percent of gender nonbinary people experiencing homelessness lacked access to shelter.”
After listing a wide array of other claims of discrimination, the section concludes with its “purpose.”
“It is the purpose of this Act to expand as well as clarify, confirm and create greater consistency in the protections and remedies against discrimination on the basis of all covered characteristics and to provide guidance and notice to individuals, organizations, corporations, and agencies regarding their obligations under the law.”
This section involves the alteration of “sex” to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” within various existing pieces of legislation, including Section 201 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The word “stadium” is also replaced with “stadium or other place of or establishment that provides exhibition, entertainment, recreation, exercise, amusement, public gathering, or public display,” with “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services” and “any train service, bus service, car service, taxi service, airline service, station, depot, or other place of or establishment that provides transportation service” added as covered “public accommodations.”
Definitions and Rules
After the inclusion of “sexual orientation and gender identity” is outlined, and covered areas of American life are widened significantly, the bill then provides several “definitions” of the terms used.
Most notably, “gender identity” is defined as “the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth,” and sex as including “a sex stereotype; pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition; sexual orientation or gender identity; and sex characteristics, including intersex traits.”
In general terms, this proposed legislation intentionally blurs the lines between biological sex and gender, a division proponents of gender theory have relied upon heavily in the past.
The issue with this bill, at its core, is that it aims to reinforce (and in some ways, construct) the rights of one group of individuals to the obvious and explicit detriment of others. Under such legislation, it is clear that religious liberty is trumped by this version of subjective “equality,” all while ignoring other rights such as freedom of association. Further adding to this worry is that much of the language is intentionally vague, meaning that concrete rights such as religious freedom can be cast aside in favor of subjective and emotionally-driven assumptions and interpretations of “discrimination,” whether or not that was the intent or reality.
In 2019, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the Equality Act with unanimous support from Democrats and eight Republicans. Given that it’s likely to pass the House again, responsibility will then fall upon the Senate, with 60 votes required to avoid a filibuster.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.