Why should Christians oppose the Equality Act?
On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, Representative Mark Takano (D-CA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) reintroduced the controversial Equality Act into the current session of Congress. This legislation intends to expand the definition of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) and would revise every title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add these categories as new protected classes in the federal code.
The Equality Act has been presented in Congress before, even passing the House of Representatives by a 224-206 vote in 2021, before dying in the Senate. Three Republicans joined all 221 Democrats in favor of the legislation.
The ERLC believes that this bill represents the most significant threat to religious liberty ever considered in the United States Congress. Opposing this bill has been among our topic public policy priorities since 2021.
Here is a summary of why the ERLC stands firmly opposed to this bill becoming law.
The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law. The bill would curtail religious freedom protections, hinder the work of healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals, undermine civil rights protections for women and girls, and ultimately steamroll the consciences of millions of Americans.
We will continue to oppose the Equality Act and similar legislation introduced this Congress. We will continue to advocate for a public square solution that protects and upholds the dignity of all people regardless of how they identify and the rights of all, while ensuring that religiously motivated individuals and institutions are free to live and act according to their deeply held convictions.
Written Testimony of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on H.R. 5
The Equality Act would curtail religious freedom protections, violate the consciences of pro-life healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals, undermine civil rights protections for women and girls, and ultimately overrule the consciences of millions of Americans.
The Equality Act intends to expand the definition of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) and would revise every title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add these categories as new protected classes in the federal code. Last Congress, the Equality Act passed in the House, but the bill died in the Senate.
The Equality Act fails to uphold human dignity in its attempt to codify the demands of the Sexual Revolution. While the proposed intention of this legislation is to protect individuals who identify as LGBT, the bill would instead steamroll the consciences of millions of people. The Equality Act undermines foundational Constitutional freedoms in its pursuit of what may be momentary cultural affirmations.
On Feb. 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a controversial bill titled the Equality Act. This legislation, filed as H.R. 5, seeks to expand the definition of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) and would revise every title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add these categories as new protected classes in the federal code.
The vote was 224-206, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of the legislation. The Republicans who voted for the act were Brian K. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and John Katko and Tom Reed of New York.
In athletics, a refusal to account for biological, sex-dependent differences will legally enshrine inequality in sports. In addition to being unfair, it is insulting and demeaning to females when we proceed as if biological males are the standard by which they ought to evaluate themselves. Acknowledging biological differences in athletic competition is as necessary as acknowledging differences in age.
If you were looking for the very best way to get Americans to accept a radical piece of legislation, giving the bill a clever name would be near the top of the list. This is exactly the case with the so-called “Equality Act,” officially known as H.R. 5. Judging by its name alone, it seems like the kind of legislation that almost anyone would support. After all, what kind of person is opposed to equality? Even more, the bill is supposedly an effort to combat discrimination. And what kind of monster would think discrimination is good?
But here’s the real issue: it takes more than a clever name to make a good law. And once you move past its name, the serious issues with H.R. 5 are both obvious and alarming.
The Equality Act would reopen the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to redefine “sex” to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as a federally protected classes. Listen to this episode of Capitol Conversations to learn about the cultural background of this bill and how the Equality Act would devastate the legal protections for sex, women’s equality, and the country’s first freedom of religious liberty.
“The Equality Act represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America. Given that it touches areas of education, public accommodation, employment, and federal funding, were it to pass, its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be both historic and also chilling.
Its passage would sound the death knell for hopes of détente in the culture wars that pit conservative Christians against their LGBT neighbors. For progressives, it would be winner-takes-all. Virtually no area of American life would emerge unscathed from the Equality Act’s reach. No less significant would be the long-term effects of how the law would shape the moral imagination of future generations.”
For Further Reading
- ERLC joins coalitions in opposition to the Equality Act
- Katie Glenn on the abortion policies hidden in H.R.5 and the pro-life movement in state legislatures
- The Nashville Statement
How can you get updates on the Equality Act and support the ERLC’s work to oppose this legislation?
- Pray for our team as we engage with elected officials on this issue.
- Subscribe to our Policy Updates so that you can be informed and aware of the religious liberty work we are doing on behalf of Southern Baptists like you.