The Equality Act

The Equality Act is a piece of legislation that attempts to add sexual orientation and gender identity into the protected categories to federal antidiscrimination laws with far-reaching impacts on several areas such as medicine, parental rights, education, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, and LBGT community (Boorstein, & Schmidt, 2021). In addition to redefining biological sex, the Act adds components to the definition of sex to encompass pregnancy, stillbirth and sex stereotypes and at the same time exempts itself from the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The intention of Equality Act to shield LGBT from unfair discrimination on the basis of sex and sex orientation is commendable but it should not be at the expense of erasing the freedom of though and belief or freedom to hold a different opinion.

Owing to the history of discrimination against certain classes of people, several federal laws have been instituted to shield all Americans from any form of discrimination. These federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of one’s nationality, origin, color, race, religion, sex, disability and familial status under Civil Rights Act, Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity and Jury Selection Rules (Waddell, 2020). For example, the Civil Rights Act mandates nondiscrimination based on select classes of persons in public accommodations (Title II), public facilities (Title III), public education (Title IV), federal funding (Title VI), and Employment (VII). The Equality Act amends this by expanding the definition of public accommodations. It adds new classes, such as place of commerce gathering, charity, and health care to classes of hotels, restaurants, and theaters (Waddell, 2020). Sneaking sexual orientation and gender identity categories into innate and immutable federal Civil Right statutes would do more harm than good.

Thesis Statement: While it is reasonable to protect the LGBT community from unfair discrimination in many public and professional settings, the Equality Act as it is designed demolishes current constitutional freedoms and civil rights and harms many Americans and communities such as parents, families, children, medical professionals, religious organizations and schools. It would okay government-imposed ideology on sexuality by forcing Americans to accept controversial beliefs or be treated as an outlaw.

The Equality Act threatens constitutional freedom and civil rights by imposing gender ideology on all Americans. It would compel organizations and individuals to admit women to men’s shelter, pay for or perform sex-change operations against their conscience.

The Equality Act would threaten parental rights and endanger the wellbeing of children. Parents who decline gender affirming medical procedures could be at risk of losing custodian rights of their children. In 2018, parents in Cincinnati lost custody of their 17-year old transgender daughter for refusing to let her take cross-sex hormones. A judge took the girl from the custody of her parents and mandated that she be provided with hormonal treatment for gender dysphoria against the parents’ objection (Hasson, 2018). It is worth noting that there exists no definitive scientific study to ascertain the success of varied hormonal treatment regimens for gender dysphoria. By making sexual orientation and gender identity protected categories, the Equality Act would make such cases routine. The healthcare nondiscrimination provision of the Equality Act treats puberty-blocking, hormonal treatment, and surgical procedures as essential and standard despite evidence saying otherwise. State governments would use this Act to remove children from those parents that decline this treatment, as it already happened in Cincinnati (Christensen, 2018). Parental rights are further threatened by the Act’s provision requiring nondiscrimination in programs receiving federal support

The Equality Act would mandate insurers and medical practitioners to pay and carry out permanent gender-transition procedures on minors irrespective of the best medical judgment or conscientious objection (The Heritage Foundation, 2019). Insurers, institutions and individual profession stand to lose the capacity to act according to their conscience or best medical judgment in an attempt to comply with the public nondiscrimination mandate. Catholic hospitals in New Jersey, Washington and California have faced lawsuits for refusing to perform gender-transition operations. These cases are likely to double under the Equality Act. In addition, it forces medical professionals to perform irreversible procedures that are not scientifically supported. The use of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers on minors, which LGBT community treat as necessary, has been found serious implications including permanent sterility and delayed brain development (Bowcott, 2020). The medical professional should be allowed to devise safe way of treating gender disorders that take into account the health of the whole person.

The Equity Act would force faith-based foster care and adoption organizations to accept children with same-sex spouses or suffer financial ruin. Accepting such children would mean faith-based organizations surrounding their held beliefs and practices. Faith-based adoption and foster care organizations that seek to strictly place children with heterosexual married couples would lose all federal funds and close down. Thus the Act furthers discrimination.

The Equality Act should would burden the consciences and livelihoods employers, businesspersons and employees (The Heritage Foundation, 2019). Under the Equality Act, employers would be forced to comply with new sexual norms lest they loss their businesses, as it happened to baker Jack Phillips in Colorado. Phillips was sued for refusing to make a custom cake for same-sex wedding (The Heritage Foundation, 2019). Instead of making certain people’s rights to earn a living, receive basic goods, the Act can bar their ability to make a living because of their sincerely-held beliefs. This would discourage many people from starting up new businesses.

Proponents of the Equality Act argue that the existing federal antidiscrimination laws do not overtly offer nondiscrimination protections to people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (Waddell, 2020). Consequently, LGBT feel they need the Equality Act to afford them protection as other classes of people are under the federal law. While LGBT community is entitled to protection as other classes of people, the goal of Equality Act is distinct from that of the federal anti-discriminatory laws.  Federal civil rights laws were enacted in response to serious problems of sexism, racism and discrimination against people with disability. These federal laws do not exempt or conflict with other constitutional freedoms or civil rights. The Equality Act exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and thus overtly undermines the federal right of free exercise of religion (Boorstein, & Schmidt, 2021). As a result, the ability of individuals and religious organizations to prevail in a trial is diminished.

The Equality Act would threaten the constitutional freedom and civil rights of individuals and organizations, preventing their noble deeds. It could cause permanent harm to many Americans. Americans and legislators across the political aisle should unite to oppose this polarizing legislation.

Eliminating unjust discrimination and guaranteeing equal treatment and respect for all are necessary and commendable goals. The Equality Act however is not about eliminating unfair discrimination but imposing controversial ideology with serious consequences for all citizens. It would cause harm to parents, children, medical professionals, businesses, faith organizations, adoption and foster care agencies and even those it is supposed to serve.

References

Boorstein, M., & Schmidt, S. (2021). Equality Act is creating a historic face-off between religious exemptions and LGBTQ rights. The Washington Post. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/03/16/equality-act-fairness-for-all-religious-liberty-lgbtq-lgbt-biden/

Bowcott, O. (2020). Puberty Blockers: Under-16s ‘Unlikely to Be Able to Give Informed Consent. Guardian. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/01/children-who-want-puberty-blockers-must-understand-effects-high-court-rules

Christensen, J. (2018). Judge gives grandparents custody of Ohio transgender teen. CNN. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/16/health/ohio-transgender-teen-hearing-judge-decision/index.html

Hasson, M. (2018). Judge Who Removed Trans Teen from Parents Highlights What Is at Stake,” Federalist. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 https://thefederalist.com/2018/02/21/judge-removed-trans-teen-parents-highlights-whats-stake/

Moschella, M. (2021). Parental Rights, Gender Ideology, and the Equality Act. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from, https://www.heritage.org/gender/report/parental-rights-gender-ideology-and-the-equality-act

The Heritage Foundation. (2019). Heritage Explains the Equality Act. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from https://www.heritage.org/gender/heritage-explains/the-equality-act

Waddell, M.B. (2020). How the “Equality Act” Is Actually Unequal, Unfair, and Unjust. Brief Issue No. IF19D01. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from https://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF19D32.pdf

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