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
The truth is, the Equality Act is not just a bad bill; it’s a dangerous one. (See our explainer and one-pager). It does not represent a good faith effort to protect LGBT Americans from discrimination. It is, in fact, an effort to codify into law the progressive orthodoxy of the sexual revolution and to legally silence those who dissent.
H.R. 5 would “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.” Should it be enacted, it would imperil religious freedom, substantially harm women and girls, and cement a false conception of the human person into our nation’s laws and consciousness. Not to mention the fact that it would effectively destroy the clear (biologically determined) distinctions between males and females in our society and laws.
And for these reasons, it is paramount that H.R. 5 is defeated.
Christians should oppose discrimination and stand up for human dignity. Of all people, followers of Jesus should recognize the inherent value of every person, regardless of their age, race, ability, religion, or any other details or features that define them, including their sexual orientation and sense of gender identity. Every person is created by God and made in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). That is why every person matters. Regardless of who they are, what they believe, or what they’ve done, no one can separate themselves from the image of God. Being stamped with God’s image means that each person possesses intrinsic dignity and deserves to be treated with respect.
There is no doubt that people in the LGBT community sometimes experience discrimination. But as Ryan T. Anderson points out, “Rather than finding common-sense, narrowly tailored ways to shield LGBT-identifying Americans from truly unjust discrimination, [H.R. 5] would act as a sword — to persecute those who don’t embrace newfangled gender ideologies.”
Anderson is correct. If the Equality Act were merely attempting to eliminate unjust discrimination, it would likely enjoy enthusiastic and bipartisan support. But it isn’t.
Instead, in the name of “antidiscrimination” H.R. 5 would see Christians and others forced to deny their sincerely held beliefs or suffer untold consequences at the hands of the state. It would see women and girls forced to share private spaces with biological males. It would see pro-life conscience protections stripped away from healthcare professionals. And it would threaten the very existence of countless faith-based charities and nonprofits.
Disagreement isn’t discrimination
We live in an age where disagreement on issues of sexuality is construed as violence. Christians and others who hold to traditional understandings of gender and sexuality are frequently slandered as zealots and bigots. But in most cases, such charges are baseless.
H.R. 5 would punish people who, whether on the basis of the Bible or biology, hold fast to their beliefs that there are only two sexes (male and female), that gender is tied to biology, and that both of these realities are permanent and fixed.
Christians should have enormous compassion for people struggling with their sexual identities and for people who believe there is some kind of misalignment between their biological sex and their internal sense of gender. But that compassion doesn’t negate our convictions about God’s intentional design for men and women. Nor does it undermine the importance of biological realities.
Men and women are different. Public policy shouldn’t punish people for adhering to facts supported by science, reason, and faith. Moreover, women and girls shouldn’t be forced to share changing facilities and restrooms with biological males or to compete against them in athletic competitions. Faith-based nonprofits shouldn’t be forced to choose between maintaining their beliefs about human sexuality or ceasing operations. Healthcare professionals shouldn’t be forced to violate their consciences (and medical training) in order to remain licensed and employed.
Opposing the Equality Act
Legislation that would punish people for recognizing distinctions written into our DNA is not a serious way to advance equality. It is, however, a clear demonstration of the strength of the LGBT lobby. People of faith, and all Americans of goodwill, should reject H.R. 5 for exactly what it is, reckless government overreach.
This bill would eradicate safeguards, destroy civil liberties, and obliterate freedom of conscience. It would also erase women and girls and supplant biological facts with subjective experiences. Supporting H.R. 5 is no way to advance equality.