By Andrew T. Walker, The Witherspoon Institute, Public Discourse.
If passed, the Equality Act would empower the government to discriminate against those who do not accept a sexually permissive understanding of human nature that denies sexual complementarity.
Building on the momentum from the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling that redefined marriage throughout America, LGBT activists working with Democratic lawmakers have unveiled a new bill titled “The Equality Act.” The brevity of the bill’s title matches neither its scope nor its impact on federal law and fundamental liberties found in the Constitution. If enacted into law, the Equality Act would further erode religious liberty, transform public opinion on sexuality, and harm the public perception of those who believe in traditional or biblical sexual morality.
The bill would create federal anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, education, employment, and housing. To do so, it would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes (SOGI). In short, the Equality Act would offer the same types of protections extended to other groups (on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin) protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The move comes after legislators and activists have been unable to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). But the Equality Act goes much further than ENDA ever dreamed, offering a comprehensive umbrella of protections based on the disputed categories of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Equality Act represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed. Were it to pass, its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be historic.
Aside from the enumerated protections that give rise to conflict between sexual identity and religious liberty, by elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to the level of race, the law’s effect would functionally equate those who don’t agree with it with racists and label them perpetrators of irrational bigotry. Indeed, to favor the Equality Act is to oppose and actively stigmatize the moral convictions that millions of Americans adhere to with abiding sincerity and deep religious precedent.