Upon receiving the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign on May 6, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden committed to making so-called Equality Act legislation a “first 100 days” priority of his administration if he’s elected in November.
This isn’t the first time Biden has made known the priority he has placed on the Equality Act. Soon after winning big in the March 3 Super Tuesday Democratic presidential primaries, he released an extensive plan “to advance LGBTQ+ equality in America and around the world.”
The plan, which would require America’s institutions to “enforce [LGBT] rights,” would be harmful to religious liberty and to the rights of women, parents, and children.
The plan makes signing the Equality Act into law a key priority. The legislation passed the House of Representatives a year ago on May 17, 2019, and is one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top priorities. It would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act, categories that the authors of the law would not have had in mind when it passed Congress in 1964.
This change to the Civil Rights Act would impact everyday Americans’ liberty, privacy, and parental and individual rights in numerous ways.
One of the first groups that would be affected would be charities—specifically, faith-based adoption agencies and homeless shelters. Recent action by the current administration and proposals in Congress have sought to provide protections for those organizations.
The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule to allow faith-based adoption agencies to exercise their religious beliefs in placing children only in loving homes with a father and a mother.
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., would codify this protection of faith-based agencies into law.
If adopted, the plan and the Equality Act would repeal the current administration’s rule and shut down agencies that refuse to violate their deeply held beliefs, preventing the placement of thousands of children with a caring father and mother.
The Equality Act and similar proposals would also threaten homeless shelters that arrange their housing according to biological sex.
In Alaska, a biological man who “identifies” as a woman attempted to enter the Hope Center, a shelter for abused women. Since the women share bathroom facilities and sleep near each other, the shelter refused to admit him.
He later filed a complaint for “gender identity discrimination.” The current administration has proposed a rule to protect shelters such as the Hope Center, which desire to respect the privacy of women in their care, but even that would also be reversed by LGBT activists’ proposals.
Their radical agenda would also extend to the criminal justice system. It would require prisons to make housing assignments based on the gender identity of the inmate. In the United Kingdom, where a similar law is already in place, a male rapist was transferred to a women’s prison because he “identifies” as a woman. Once there, he twice committed sexual assaults.
Taxpayers also would be responsible for paying for sex-change procedures of transgender inmates. The plan promises to “ensure all transgender inmates in federal correctional facilities have access to appropriate doctors and medical care—including OB-GYNs and hormone therapy.”
The health care sector also would be substantially affected by these proposals. The plan “will ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals have full access to all appropriate health care treatments and resources.” That includes taxpayer-funded hormone treatments and sex-change surgery for transgender individuals through the Affordable Care Act.
It would also affect privacy, safety, and fairness for children in public schools. It promises to reinstate the Obama administration’s guidance that required schools to allow students who identify as transgender to access the bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex.
That guidance rightly has been revoked by the current administration. If reinstated, the privacy of all students would be compromised, and even leave them vulnerable to sexual assault, as was the case in one notable case in Georgia.
Girls would be at a disadvantage on their own sports teams, as biological males would be able to compete against them. Two males in Connecticut, who “identify” as female, easily took first and second place in a girls track and field state competition, and such a policy would be mandatory nationwide under the Equality Act and related policies.
The legislation would force business owners to conform to new sexual norms, or they would be at risk of losing their business. Bakers, florists, photographers, and wedding venue owners who support traditional values would have to choose between participating in same-sex weddings or closing their business.
Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, went all the way to the Supreme Court over declining to bake a same-sex wedding cake. The court acknowledged his right to exercise his deeply held religious beliefs in a 7-2 decision, but the Equality Act and the plan would steamroll this affirmation of religious liberty.
The plan also proposes a nationwide ban on “conversion therapy,” possibly including even counseling by clergy. That would particularly harm children experiencing gender dysphoria, as research shows that 80% to 95% of children resolve their distress if not pushed to transition socially or medically.
Counseling bans would prevent those children from seeking any help to accept their bodies other than the activist-approved path of puberty blockers and hormones.
The plan rightly states that “every human being should be treated with respect and dignity.” The problem is that it would not protect all Americans.
Only when the rights of women, children, and parents are protected and religious liberty is respected will there be genuine “equality for all.”
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal