February 26, 2021

Equality Act

“The Democratic-led House passed a bill Thursday that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws… The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas.” AP News

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From the Left

The left supports the legislation, arguing that LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination.

“Last year, Tennessee made it legal for publicly funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away would-be parents simply for being LGBTQ. That was just one of the 185 anti-LGBTQ bills across 35 states that were introduced in 2020 alone, in case you thought the fight was over after marriage equality was achieved… If it becomes law, the Equality Act would go a long way in terms of protecting LGBTQ people who are currently being targeted by elected officials…

“A version of the Equality Act called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was first introduced in Congress in 1994 and has been modified, ignored and modified again. More than two decades of stalling just to have Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) take to Twitter to call the Equality Act ‘evil’ and then repeat this rhetoric on the floor as if keeping foster children out of loving homes because of bigotry is moral… This week’s House vote is both a sign of progress and a warning that the work is nowhere near ended.”
LZ Granderson, Los Angeles Times

“The Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling barred LGBTQ discrimination only in hiring, firing and workplace treatment. It remains legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in a large number of states in an astonishing variety of circumstances. ‘In 29 states, Americans can still be evicted, be thrown out of a restaurant, or be denied a loan because of who they are or whom they love,’ said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), the Equality Act’s House sponsor… it is legal in 27 states to deny people housing based on their LGBTQ status

“Some senators argue that the Equality Act lacks sufficient religious-liberty protections. But engaging in public commerce comes with a price: Business owners cannot pay their employees less than the minimum wage. A cake shop owner must follow health and safety regulations even if he does not believe they are necessary. A landlord should not be able to refuse to rent an apartment to a gay couple. The government should respect private worship, but it also has a high interest in ensuring activities occurring in the public square are fair and equitable.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Compromise could be achieved by packaging LGBTQ civil rights protections with relatively narrow exemptions for religious objectors. Many states have done this — including Utah, in a 2015 compromise among LGBTQ rights groups, conservative state legislators and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). More recently, a coalition of faith-based groups — including such heavy hitters as the LDS church, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Evangelicals — joined with the American Unity Fund, a center-right LGBTQ advocacy group, to propose such a compromise, called the Fairness for All Act…

“Amended, the Equality Act could become a vehicle for bipartisan Senate negotiations that could add tailored religious exemptions. That kind of bill would have a real shot at winning 60 or more Senate votes and a majority in the House.”
Jonathan Rauch, Washington Post

“Predictably, Republican opposition to the measure surfaced concerns about women’s safety in restrooms, something that conservatives are always getting worked up about, despite an utter absence of evidence suggesting harassment and sexual assault spike when trans people are allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity…

“The vote followed two days of debate, during which many lawmakers spoke from personal experience about the act’s implications. ‘Had this legislation been enacted when I was growing up, it would’ve been direct evidence of the fact that things really do get better; that I didn’t have to hide or cry so much,’ New York Rep. Mondaire Jones, one of the first two openly gay Black men ever elected to Congress, said on the House floor Thursday…

“‘Today we send a powerful message to millions of LGBTQ people around the country, and indeed around the world, that they are seen. That they are valued.’”
Claire Lampen, The Cut

“For most people in the United States, those protections are a matter of common sense and long overdue. In 2020, polling found that more than 8 in 10 people support the passage of nondiscrimination laws that would protect LGBT people. A majority of people in every state support LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, as do a broad majority of both Democrats and Republicans…

“Enacting it should be a no-brainer. The public supports it, LGBT people need it, and it advances the civil rights promise that people should not be treated as inferior solely because of who they are.”
Ryan Thoreson, The Hill

From the Right

The right opposes the legislation, arguing that it fails to account for biological sex differences and erodes religious freedom.

The right opposes the legislation, arguing that it fails to account for biological sex differences and erodes religious freedom.

“This isn’t only a question of semantics. Nor is it merely an attempt to prohibit employment discrimination against sexual minorities. A 2020 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court already does that. The Equality Act would go much further by making it illegal to distinguish ‘identity’ from biology…

“The bill is so broad that even some who support the measure in principle have called for Congress to carve out exceptions. Writing in the Washington Post in 2019, tennis legend and activist Martina Navratilova asked Congress to exempt athletic competitions. ‘The reality,’ Ms. Navratilova wrote, ‘is that putting male- and female-bodied athletes together is co-ed or open sport. And in open sport, females lose.’…

“The reason that some contexts require separation of the sexes is obvious: Women have unique physical vulnerabilities. Female inmates are kept separate from male inmates for just this reason. How can we possibly reduce the number of sex crimes against women if the law refuses to recognize such basic differences?”
Inez F. Stepman, Wall Street Journal

“The Equality Act's definition makes no mention of what sex actually is: the unchangeable reality that a person is either ‘male’ or ‘female’ (intersex conditions are disorders of sexual development, not a different sex). Only females go through female puberty, get pregnant, give birth and go through menopause. That's biology…

“For decades, our laws worked to ensure equal treatment of men and women… Women's lives were saved, for example, when medicine stopped treating the male body as the default and the female body as the exception. Heart attack symptoms in males and females, for example, are different, because our biology is different. And because our bodies are different in small but significant ways, the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis for many diseases differ too. As females, we also have unique vulnerabilities and enhanced needs for privacy and safety…

“The logic of the Equality Act treats sex (male or female) as no more significant than a bureaucratically ‘assigned’ label, slapped on in the delivery room and peeled off at will. In its place, the act enshrines the cult concept of ‘gender identity’—the individual's self-defined identity, based on feelings, ‘regardless’ of sex…

“Under the Equality Act, ‘gender identity’ determines access to ‘public accommodations,’ a category the act redefines to include just about everywhere. It mandates access to ‘a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room" among other gathering places on the basis of "gender identity.’ Translation: There will be no safe spaces left for females.”
Mary Rice Hasson, Newsweek

“As University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock told National Review, the Equality Act ‘goes very far to stamp out religious exemptions.’ Laycock, a longtime supporter of gay marriage and proponent of enacting a federal gay-rights law, explained that the Equality Act ‘regulates religious non-profits And then it says that [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] does not apply to any claim under the Equality Act…

“‘This would be the first time Congress has limited the reach of RFRA. This is not a good-faith attempt to reconcile competing interests. It is an attempt by one side to grab all the disputed territory and to crush the other side.’”
John McCormack, National Review

“Rather than finding common-sense, narrowly tailored ways to shield LGBT-identifying Americans from truly unjust discrimination, the bill would act as a sword — to persecute those who don’t embrace newfangled gender ideologies. It would vitiate a sex binary that is quite literally written into our genetic code and is fundamental to many of our laws, not least laws protecting the equality, safety and privacy of women…

“The Equality Act would sacrifice the hard-won rights of women, while privileging men who identify as women. If it ­becomes law, such men would have a right to spend the night in battered-women’s shelters, disrobe in women’s locker rooms and compete on women’s sports teams — even at K-12 schools…

“The act would also massively expand the government’s regulatory reach… [It] would coerce ‘any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting or legal services,’ along with any organization that receives any federal funding. That’s more or less everyone and everything.”
Ryan Anderson, New York Post

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