In the coming weeks, the House and Senate will hear debate over the Equality Act, which greatly expands the legal rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people.
A huge political battle is brewing over this legislation, and over the next few weeks, you’re sure to hear the right throw out all their old talking points in a barrage of vile bigotry, the likes of which we haven’t seen in about two months.
So what does the Equality Act do? Well, exactly what’s in the name.
The Equality Act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups which cannot be discriminated against in employment and housing.
The Equality act also adds protections for federally funded programs and “public accommodations,” a broad category containing retail stores and restaurants.
These protections mean a baker could no longer refuse to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because they were gay. Another important part of the bill is that it trumps the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA.
So why would anyone be opposed to this bill?
The most common attack on the Equality Act has been that it will negatively affect women’s rights. This idea is based on a blatant misunderstanding of both science and basic fact.
The bill does not require that you “prioritize transgender people over women.” as the Wall Street Journal claimed, or “redefine ‘sex’ under federal civil rights laws.” None of that is anywhere in the law, but that’s not really what these people mean when they make these bad-faith arguments.
They mean something a little closer to what the New York Post said when they decided to get a little more blatant “the bill would act as a sword — to persecute those who don’t embrace newfangled gender ideologies.”
Quick note, the easiest way to catch a bigot is to look for when they reframe a debate about someone’s rights as a debate over “ideology.” It’s a lot easier to argue against “gender ideology” than “transgender rights.”
The article goes on to say, “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 batteredwomen’s shelters, disrobe in women’s locker rooms and compete on women’s sports teams.”
So that’s the argument they’re really making. That transgender women are just men and are a danger to women. There is no evidence to back up the claims that trans women pose a threat to women, and there is evidence to back up the fact that gender dysphoria does exist.
The other simple fact of the matter is that this argument does not consider where trans women should go. Because what they are suggesting is that people who have taken hormones or undergone surgery and have women’s bodies should be forced to go into men’s spaces where
they are much more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped. Not to mention transgender men who, under their worldview, should be forced into women’s bathrooms.
So once you start to think even a little bit longer about these arguments they completely fall apart and you see how protecting trans people will help women rather than harm them.
The other argument against the Equality Act surrounds religious freedom. This one is simple to dispel. Your rights end where others’ begin. You have the right under the Constitution to practice whatever religion you please, but you do not have the right to impose your religion on others.
Religion is not a magic bullet which you can use to discriminate against people you do not like.
The Equality Act would extend basic human rights to every American and would act as a shield for some of our most vulnerable citizens against bigotry and hatred. It has no reason not to have your support, and it has no reason not to end up on Joe Biden’s desk.