Last month, Democrats introduced the Equality Act of 2019. It would modify existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs, and credit.
It sounds good. No one should favor discriminating in employment, housing, etc. based on sexual orientation, etc.
But there are serious problems with the Equality Act of 2019, such that Republicans should prevent its passage in Congress. That way, President Trump won’t be faced with the dilemma of signing bad legislation or alienating a large group of voters by vetoing it.
The central problem with the Equality Act is that it overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). That statute, which protects religious liberty, could no longer be used in the civil rights context.
The gates to anti-discrimination lawsuits against religious believers and institutions would therefore be wide open. As Kristen Wagner, senior vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom’s U.S. legal division, put it, the Equality Act would undermine “the fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience that the First Amendment guarantees for every citizen.”
This is not an exaggeration. It is confirmed by experience in states that have such legislation. These state laws have been used to shut down Catholic adoption agencies that only place children with a mother (biologically female) and a father (biologically male). They have also been used, famously, to compel people working in the wedding industry, like florists, photographers and bakers, to provide their services for same-sex ceremonies, in violation of their religious conscience and without regard to the availability of such services from vendors who would be happy to provide them.
But that’s just the beginning of the mischief. Monica Burke of the Heritage Foundation describes more of it.
The Equality Act would be used to compel speech. Burke explains:
Virginia high school teacher Peter Vlaming lost his job for something he did not say.
A county school board voted unanimously to fire the veteran teacher over the objections of his students after he refused to comply with administrators’ orders to use masculine pronouns in referring to a female student who identifies as transgender.
Vlaming did his best to accommodate the student without violating his religious belief that God created human beings male and female, using the student’s new name and simply refraining from using pronouns altogether.
Unfortunately, the school still considered this a violation of its anti-discrimination policy.
Incidents like these would increase under federal policy proposed in the Equality Act. Both federal and private employers could face costly lawsuits if they fail to implement strict preferred pronoun policies. Employees could be disciplined if they fail to comply, regardless of their scientific or moral objections.
It might well force medical professionals to act against their best medical judgment:
Under state sexual orientation and gender identity laws, individuals who identify as transgender have sued Catholic hospitals in California and New Jersey for declining to perform hysterectomies on otherwise healthy women who wanted to pursue gender transition.
If these lawsuits succeed, medical professionals would be pressured to treat patients according to ideology rather than their best medical judgment.
The Obama administration tried to coerce medical professionals into offering transition-affirming therapies through a regulation in. . .Obamacare.
That move was stopped in the 11th hour by a federal judge. However, that could all be set back in motion if a national law imposes a nationwide health care mandate regarding gender identity.
It would jeopardize parental rights:
The current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics includes an article arguing that the state should overrule the parents of transgender children who do not consent to give them puberty-blocking drugs.
This has already happened. In Ohio, a judge removed a biological girl from her parents’ custody after they declined to help her “transition” to male with testosterone supplements.
After the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic recommended these treatments for the girl’s gender dysphoria, the parents wanted to pursue counseling instead. Then the county’s family services agency charged the parents with abuse and neglect, and the judge terminated their custody.
Similar cases are proceeding through the courts with children as young as 6 years old. . .A federal sexual orientation and gender law would make these cases more common.
Meanwhile, studies show that 80 to 95 percent of children no longer experience gender dysphoria after puberty. Politicizing medicine could have serious consequences for children who are exposed to the unnecessary medical risks of drastic therapies.
It would likely increase sexual assault:
A complaint under investigation by federal education officials alleges that a boy who identifies as “gender fluid” at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, sexually assaulted Pascha Thomas’ 5-year-old daughter in a girls’ restroom. The boy had access to the girls’ restroom because of Decatur City Schools’ transgender restroom policy.
School authorities refused to change the policy even after Thomas reported the assault. Eventually, she decided to remove her daughter from school for the girl’s emotional well-being and physical safety.
A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would give male sexual predators who self-identify as females access to private facilities, increasing the likelihood of these tragic incidents.
It could also make victims less likely to report sexual misconduct and police less likely to get involved, for fear of being accused of discrimination.
The proposed Equality Act could impose a nationwide bathroom policy that would leave women and children in particular vulnerable to predators.
The Equality Act will breeze through the House. However, it’s likely to fail in the Senate. Sen. Susan Collins has said she’s in favor of the Act, and I suspect that several other GOP Senators favor it, as well. Fortunately, Majority Leader McConnell will probably prevent a vote.
If he does, the issue presumably will be used against him when he seeks reelection next year. Most Americans oppose denying people jobs and benefits due to their sexual orientation.
But McConnell should be able to explain that the Equality Act goes much further, imposing requirements that most Americans don’t support. He should also be able to explain that if the Democrats really wanted to end true discrimination — the kind most Americans find objectionable — rather than imposing a radical LGBTQ ideology on America, they would not have included an override of RFRA in their bill.