A new bill being pushed by House Democrats (and three House Republicans) claims to advance equality for gay and transgender Americans. In reality, it takes aim at the conscience rights of everyone who disagrees with the Left.
The bill in question is H.R. 5, the so-called, “Equality Act,” which is currently making its way through the House of Representatives. Basically, it would add sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as protected classes to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act.
The idea here is nothing new. Democrats have been trying to add sexual orientation to federal discrimination law for decades. However, the 116th House of Representatives will be the first to hold a hearing on this particular iteration of the idea, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and trans pressure group.
Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy for the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and one of the bill’s supporters, claimed at a Monday press conference that it would “ensure that LGBTQ people across the country have clear and consistent protections in the public sphere.”
So what are the problems with that?
Let’s start with the bill’s First Amendment issues. See, whether or not the political Left wants to acknowledge such views as legitimate or worthy of constitutional protection, there are still a lot of people in this country who hold traditional beliefs on issues of sex, marriage, and basic human biology. Those people have the fundamental human rights of free expression and association in how they do business, which are protected by the First Amendment.
Elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to the same level as things like religion, race, and sex would run roughshod over those conscience rights.
“SOGI laws do not adequately protect religious freedom,” explained Heritage Foundation civil rights expert Ryan Anderson about the legislation in 2015. “Even worse, the Equality Act states that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used to defend people who believe that marriage is the union of man and woman if they are incorrectly charged with ‘discrimination’ under the Equality Act. The bill says that religious freedom needs to take a back seat to special SOGI protections.”
Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress tried to head off these arguments during the press conference by pointing out all the people of faith present in support of the bill.
“Opponents of the Equality Act will try and convince the public that protecting LGBTQ Americans … will prevent certain groups of people from practicing their religious beliefs,” Stachelberg said at the Monday press conference. “If those opponents took one look at this crowd today … they would see people of faith who believe that supporting equality and dignity does nothing to diminish their religious convictions.”
That argument, however, doesn’t actually address the fact that people whose beliefs predate the demands of the gay rights movement by a few thousand years have rights that would be violated by this legislation.
The most obvious targets of adding SOGI to the list of federally protected classes would be traditional believers who work in the wedding industry, like Christian baker Jack Phillips of Colorado or the Klein family of Oregon.
And there are also concerns for the safety of women and girls pointed out by Abigail Shrier at the Wall Street Journal, who writes: “The Equality Act sacrifices female safety in restrooms, locker rooms and even domestic-violence shelters.”
How does it do this? The bill’s language state’s very clearly that “an individual shall not be 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.”
Furthermore, since it defines “gender identity” as “means the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual,” it provides no safeguards to the fact that would-be predators would be able to use its provisions to gain access to these areas by merely claiming to be transgender.
The bill could also force religious hospitals to perform sex-change surgeries and, probably most frightening for parents, could lead to disastrous consequences for the rights of parents of children who identify as transgender, the Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao explains.
Of course, this is all for show. There’s about as much chance of this passing the Republican Senate as there is for a five-star ski resort in hell, but this gives voters a look at the agenda that Democrats could pursue if things go their way in 2020.