House Democrats passed Thursday the Equality Act, taking their cues from President Biden as he pushes transgender rights to the forefront despite warnings of dire repercussions for religious freedom, women’s sports and parental rights.
The bill, which would add sex, gender identity and sexual orientation to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, was approved by 224-206, with three Republicans voting in favor of the measure, a drop from the eight who supported the measure in 2019.
The previous legislation had little chance with Republicans in charge of the Senate and President Trump in the White House, but Mr. Biden has already made transgender rights a priority, starting with a day-one executive order to combat discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Passing the Equality Act the last time was historic, a day of hope and happiness for millions,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her floor speech. “Now with a Democratic Senate majority and President Biden in the White House, and Vice President Harris there as well, we will pass it once more and we will never stop fighting until it becomes law.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, introduced last week the Senate companion bill, but the road through the 50-50 Senate remains fraught. Democrats would need 10 Republicans to stave off a filibuster, and they may have already lost their leading prospect.
Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, told the Washington Blade that she would not co-sponsor the Senate bill — she was the only GOP co-sponsor in the previous Congress — saying that the bill’s authors had failed to address her concerns.
“There were certain provisions of the Equality Act which needed revision,” Ms. Collins said in the Wednesday article. “Unfortunately, the commitments that were made to me were not [given] last year.”
Jim Jordan Schools Democrat on Religion and LGBTQ ‘Equality Act’
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) noted Thursday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity, specifically disallows religious exemptions.
Jordan was responding to a speech by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY), who accused Republicans of using freedom of religion as an excuse “to hate on gay people,” and claimed that religious freedom would still be protected under the Equality Act.
But Jordan pointed to the text of the bill itself, which states: “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.” The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enacted to protect the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion except for “compelling government interest.”
Religion has been at the heart of debates about same-sex marriage, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Democrats tried to short-circuit that debate in the Equality Act, which implies that religion cannot be cited as a basis for “discrimination.”
Following Jordan, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) argued that language in the text of the bill also attempts to create a statutory right to abortion by prohibiting discrimination regarding “a related medical condition” connected to pregnancy.
The Equality Act passed the House on a largely party-line vote, 224-206, with only three Republicans joining Democrats in favor.
The Senate is considered unlikely to pass the Equality Act, for the reasons of religious liberty Jordan mentioned.
HD Editor’s Note:
Franklin Graham: Have you heard of the Equality Act? The name might sound good, but it’s deceiving. It has nothing to do with equality. It’s just a smokescreen to force Americans to accept the LGBTQ agenda and it creates a lot of INEQUALITY for Christians and all people of faith. It punishes individuals and organizations that disagree based on their moral convictions.
If passed into law, the Equality Act could prohibit religious organizations—Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, all—and churches from hiring only like-minded people who believe what they believe.
The Equality Act would destroy women’s and girls’ sports in this country as we know it. It would allow biological males who choose to identify as females to compete for titles, scholarships, and recognition at all age levels.
The Equality Act would erase women’s privacy—in locker rooms, dressing rooms, homeless shelters, restrooms, and more.
God made us male and female, and that’s it. With some 6,000 years of human history, it has only been in the last few years that people have come up with all of these additional designations for gender identity.
This is a very dangerous bill and I strongly encourage you to write your representatives in Congress and the Senate, your governor, even your state legislators, and express your concern. Also contact the White House at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ and let President Biden and this administration know how you feel. Ask Senators to vote NO on the Equality Act—and PRAY for God to move in the hearts of these legislators and open their eyes to see the dangers looming before us.