Opinion: The Equality Act and Its Implications

John Hernick, Staff Writer

The “Equality Act” passed in the House of Representatives this week by a vote of 224-206.  The vote count was mostly party-line, though three Republicans wound up joining the Democrats. Undoubtedly, in the media, academia and elsewhere, many will unjustly label those who voted against the Act as homophobic and racist. Many may even call for their “cancellation,” (a term so common in American life today that it has sadly become a part of our vernacular). Unfortunately, this term is now widely used by many Americans who can’t or won’t do the hard work of articulating the rationale for their positions.

Although we will undoubtedly hear people praise this Bill for, as CBS News has already said, “enshrining legal protections for LGBTQ Americans by amending existing civil rights laws to prevent businesses and institutions from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” I believe this is a mischaracterization of the highest order.

It must first be asked, in an age when people hear someone take an opposing stance on an issue and immediately demonize them: Are Republicans against equality? Are they against LGBTQ people? No, they are not. What most Republicans are opposed to is favoring one group at the expense of the rights of others. Objectively speaking, the Equality Act does this in three ways.

First, it destroys women’s athletics. According to this Bill, biological males can now enter women’s locker rooms and sporting events. According to this Act, the verbiage “including sexual orientation and gender preference” must be placed next to “sex” in many parts of existing US Federal Law. As this legislation ostensibly attempts to secure rights for LGBTQ+ people, it simultaneously violates the rights of women.

Second, this Act blatantly erodes religious liberty. A long-held bipartisan protection is being dismantled by this Bill because it subverts religious freedom to the preference of those who would rather have religion sidelined in the public arena. The Act says, “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.” All of us, regardless of party affiliation, should be concerned with this language in a piece of Federal legislation. 

Third, it universalizes abortion. This Bill mandates that all physicians, regardless of moral or religious objection, provide abortion on-demand to those who request the procedure. Regardless of your personal views on abortion, do you believe the government has the right to force medical professionals to perform procedures they are not comfortable with? In the words of Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, “This is not equality, liberty or freedom. This is not American.”

Not only does this Act infringe upon Americans’ most cherished civil liberties, it also indicates the dramatic shift of the Democratic Party from a group that used to respect America’s founding documents to one that doesn’t. Liberal political philosophy is entirely lost on those who crafted this Bill. If these people did respect religion and individual civil liberties, then their legislation would reflect this. Unfortunately for all of us, the Equality Act is replete with governmental overstepping and devoid of civil liberty protections.

What next? The Act goes to the Senate where it will die without the support of at least 10 Republicans. To the supporters of this legislation, I say savor your victory now because it is unlikely it passes in the Senate and winds up on  President Joe Biden’s resolute desk. I predict the Equality Act will be a short-lived, pyrrhic victory for its supporters in the U.S. House of Representatives.