Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that intends to provide additional protections for LGBTQ Americans at the expense of millions of Americans’ freedoms Thursday. Democratic Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline and Democratic Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced the Equality Act, H.R.5.
The Equality Act was originally proposed in 2019 and passed in the House of Representatives; however, former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote on the bill in the Senate. Given the change of power in the Senate as well as President Joe Biden’s enthusiasm for such legislation, Merkley and Cicilline reintroduced the bill.
According to The Washington Post, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and other existing civil rights laws in order to preclude “discrimination in the workforce.”
The bill seeks to strike the word “sex” and replace it with the phrase: “sex including sexual orientation and gender identity,” over a dozen times to existing civil rights legislation.
This ambiguous change, and other seemly innocuous amendments, provide prolific new protections for individuals based solely on the gender that they purport to identify as.
In 2021, every American should be treated with respect and dignity,” said Cicilline in a press release. “Yet, in most states, LGBTQ people can be discriminated against because of who they are, or who they love. It is past time for that to change. I’m proud to introduce the Equality Act today, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Merkley to get this bill signed into law.”
Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi retweeted Cicilline’s announcement of the proposed bill, adding “Our nation was founded on the promise that all are created equal and are worthy of dignity & respect. By reintroducing the Equality Act, we are making a commitment to this truth: that all Americans must be treated equally under the law. #EqualityAct”
While the mainstream media rejoiced at the proposal of this legislation, very few outlets delineated any of its profound freedom-threatening implications.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, however, eloquently outlined potential consequences of the Equality Act and provided various real-life scenarios that have occurred due to similar legislation imposed at state and local levels.
In recent years, government officials and others have used state and local laws to threaten the freedom of millions of Americans. The laws known as SOGI laws because they elevate “sexual orientation” and gender identity” to new legally protected classifications.”The Alliance Defending Freedom | February 3, 2021
Perhaps the most profound example the ADF provides is of a city in Alaska in which government officials “threatened to use a city law to force a women’s shelter to allow men to sleep three feet away from vulnerable women who have been trafficked and abused.”
The ADF goes on to outline how the innocuously named “Equality Act” actually poses a grave threat to American liberties – particularly those enshrined in the First Amendment:
The “Equality Act” could regulate speech, forcing certain beliefs and ideas out of the public square under the threat of punishment. Specifically, those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman or that biological sex is immutable could, in too many circumstances, no longer be permitted to speak or act consistently with those beliefs. Even worse, the “Equality Act” could force individuals to speak messages that contradict their beliefs.The Alliance Defending Freedom | February 16, 2021
Places of worship and religious schools would also be subject to the wrath of the Equality Act. The ADF says that, if passed, such a bill “poses devastating and unprecedented threats to religious freedom.”
The ADF also notes that that the Equality Act “threatens religious colleges and universities, forbidding college students from using their federal tuition assistance at schools that ‘discriminate’ on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That means any Christian university that has a code of conduct prohibiting sex outside of marriage or that declines to let biological males compete on women’s sports teams could lose federal student aid.”
According to a 2017 Gallup Poll, only 4.5% of the American population identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community. If passed, the Equality Act would reduce the freedoms of all Americans for the benefit of an exceedingly small demographic.
While the bill, likely, has overwhelming support to pass in the Democrat-controlled House and has enough support from all fifty left-leaning Senators, at least ten Republican Senators would need to support the legislation in order to invoke cloture to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
As part of his campaign promise, President Biden has promised to sign an equality geared bill within the first 100 days of his presidency–in one reaches his desk.