“Equality” Act is Anything But

When is “Equality” not a good thing?

When it is deceptively invoked to disguise legislation that will not advance equality, but will instead radically rewrite civil rights law and destroy religious freedom protections; that will impose “gender ideology” upon children, families, and faith-based institutions, affecting everything from bathroom privacy, to the integrity of women’s sports, to the right of religious people and institutions to live according to their sacred beliefs.

That is the true nature of the so-called “Equality Act,” which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is pending in the U.S. Senate. It is actively opposed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops because it “discriminates against people of faith.”

The bill would expand the reach of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or national origin, to now include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”—thereby criminalizing those who hold to beliefs and practices that recognize marriage as between one woman and one man, and gender as a permanent biological reality, not a changeable social construct. 

And to make sure that people and institutions of faith have no legal recourse, the bill exempts itself from the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so that there will be no religious or conscience exemptions from its dictates.

As self-described “gay conservative” Brad Polumbo wrote in USA Today in May 2019, “the Equality Act goes too far for any level-headed gay rights advocate to support, and its blatant disregard for the basic right to religious freedom is appalling.” (My emphasis)

This bill, if enacted, will:

  • force religiously operated facilities—such as parish or Knights of Columbus halls—to either host events, like same-sex “weddings,” that violate their beliefs, or close their doors to the community;
  • require women and girls to compete against biological men and boys in scholastic sports, and to share restroom, locker room, and shower facilities with men and boys;
  • mandate that faith-based charities either act in violation of their religious beliefs —for example, housing biological males in shelters for abused women, or placing children for foster care or adoption with same-sex, transgender, or non-married co-habiting couples—or be shut down, depriving people in need of their charitable services;
  • cite “pregnancy discrimination” to mandate taxpayer funding of abortions and force health care providers to perform abortions in violation of their conscience or the teachings of their religion;
  • force health care professionals, against their medical judgment and/or religious beliefs, to facilitate “gender transition” treatments, including hormone therapies and surgical procedures. “This,” wrote Polumbo, “eviscerates freedom of conscience and tramples over the basic constitutional rights of religious Americans who work in the health care industry.”  

As Monica Burke at the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, the Equality Act also threatens employers and workers, particularly small and family-owned entities, with loss of their businesses and jobs if they refuse to violate their religious beliefs. This is already playing out on the state and local level, with florists, bakers, photographers, and many other wedding service providers charged with civil rights violations—some hit with crippling fines, others driven out of business altogether—because their religious or moral convictions prevent them from participating in same-sex “weddings.”    

The bill would also harm families, Burke points out, “by normalizing hormonal and surgical interventions for gender-dysphoric children”—the vast majority of whom outgrow such dysphoria “by the end of puberty”—”as well as ideological ‘education’ in schools and other public venues.”

The Equality Act, then, is a collection of self-evident contradictions:

  • Under the guise of prohibiting discrimination, it would discriminate against people and institutions of faith;
  • Under the guise of protecting privacy, it would destroy women’s privacy in restrooms, locker rooms, showers, and homeless shelters;
  • Under the guise of promoting equality, it would undermine women’s equality in sports;
  • And of course, it denies equality for unborn children, whose mass destruction would be further advanced by its provisions.  

Further illustrating this, last Tuesday EWTN reporter Owen Jensen, concerned about recourse for doctors forced to perform abortions under the Equality Act, asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki whether President Biden would keep in place the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division established by President Trump at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Psaki deferred the question to Biden’s nominee for director of HHS, Xavier Becerra.

That is hardly reassuring. As Attorney General of California, Becerra sued to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in their employees’ health insurance. And he enthusiastically supported a state law—defending it, unsuccessfully, thank God, before the U.S. Supreme Court—that would have forced pro-life pregnancy centers to refer for abortions. They could have been fined out of existence for not complying, depriving many women—and children—of the loving services they offer.

The Equality Act in Becerra’s hands would be a dangerous weapon in service to his pro-abortion absolutism and his demonstrated hostility to conscience rights and religious liberty. His nomination, and the Equality Act, should both be rejected by the Senate.

If you agree, please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to vote against Xavier Becerra’s confirmation as director of Health and Human Services.

And, to go the U.S. Bishops’ Action Center and make your voice heard in opposition to the misnamed Equality Act, please click here.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

8 thoughts on ““Equality” Act is Anything But

  1. Thank you Rick for a fine summation of this terrible legislation. However, as one contributor commented in a previous blog, we should not be surprised as this is just what the Democratic Party promised.

    I must admit to be confounded at the recent elevation to cardinal of three pro-Biden bishops, Gregory, Cupich and Tobin. For me their minimization of moral issues misled Catholics during the election. It is a scandal second only to that of priestly sexual abuse.

    Thank you for the senatorial contact link to voice objection to this evil proposed legislation. I’ve used it and shared it with family and friends.

    May God have mercy on our nation.

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  2. Less than six years ago, writing for the majority in the Obergefell same-sex “marriage” decision, faux Catholic Anthony Kennedy wrote that “it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”

    On the same day, Chief Justice Roberts, in a dissent, wrote that [H]ard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right (sic) to same-sex marriage – when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sexed couples. Indeed the Solicitor General [in arguing for same-sex marriage] candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today

    And now comes the “Equality” Act.

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    1. Thanks, Monsignor!

      Thank you, Walter, for taking action yourself and spreading the word! Yes, while the USCCB as a body is quite clear an forceful in its opposition to this bill, we wish ALL would be as forceful. Yet, as it is to the laity that falls the responsibility to act in the political and governmental spheres, we soldier on, welcoming the moral teachings of all our bishops and priests who do speak out, and refusing to fall silent because some don’t.

      Thank you, Larry, yes, the observations of Chief Justice Roberts in the Obergefell case were certainly prescient as regards its impact against religious freedom. Kennedy seems to have been rather naive to think that religious liberty would be respected under that ruling. What has happened and is happening was really self-evident. As I’ve written before, this was never about “choice” for the pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage secularists. They are determined to bring to heel those who disagree with their agenda–especially the Catholic Church, which they see as the bulwark upholding the traditional moral values they reject.

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  3. Thank, you, Rick, for that thoughtful and well researched piece. I sent this to my congresswoman Susan Wild who, sadly, cosponsored the bill some time ago. I also have been sending emails to my senators. We can only pray this can be stopped.

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    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! Hopefully we’ll have some impact, I assume your Sen. Pat Toomey will vote with us, though Sen. Casey probably not (he’s not his father!) As you say, having made our voices heard, we pray that hearts are moved to stop this.

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  4. Thank you Catherine for “doing”.

    Mt 7: 21
    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

    All: You may wish to visit the Catholics for Freedom of Religion site sanctioned by DRVC under Bishops Murphy and Barres to get an appreciation of our rights which are now being dismantled.

    https://www.catholicsforfreedomofreligion.org/

    Like

    1. Thanks for providing that link, Walter. Our friend Barbara Samuells does marvelous work leading Catholics for Freedom of Religion!

      Like

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