Liberties Reporting on First Amendment freedoms

The misleadingly named Equality Act resurfaces

Religious Liberty | The legislation expands LGBT protections at expense of religious freedom
by Steve West
Posted 2/23/21, 12:38 pm

Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, backed by President Joe Biden, reintroduced a broad bill on Thursday that would write LGBT protections into federal civil rights statutes. If enacted, the proposed law will trump religious liberty for people and institutions holding to Biblical standards on marriage and sexuality.

It’s not the first go round for the controversial Equality Act. A virtually identical bill passed the House in May 2019 only to fizzle without a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. This year, it won’t be a cakewalk in the now–evenly divided Senate. The chamber’s filibuster rules require 60 votes to pass the legislation—meaning it would need every Democratic senator plus 10 Republicans.

In last year’s Bostock v. Clayton County ruling, the Supreme Court extended sexual orientation and gender identity protections to cover secular employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Equality Act would not only enshrine that ruling as law but extend it to many other areas without adding corresponding religious freedom protections.

Andrew Walker, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote of the 2019 version of the bill that it would shape the long-term morality of the country: “Virtually no area of American life would emerge unscathed from the Equality Act’s reach.”

The bill explicitly overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law which prevents the federal government from burdening the exercise of faith without a compelling reason and requiring it to do so in the least restrictive way possible.

Stanley Carlson-Thies, founder and senior director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, noted the sweeping Equality Act would run roughshod over existing protections for religious people and institutions. He said it would require faith-based adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, religious nonprofits to hire employees who do not adhere to their faith, and medical staff at religious hospitals to perform elective abortions and gender transition surgeries against their convictions.

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Steve West

Steve is a legal correspondent for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, Wake Forest University School of Law, and N.C. State University. He worked for 34 years as a federal prosecutor and is now an attorney in private practice. Steve resides with his wife in Raleigh, N.C. Follow him on Twitter @slntplanet.

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    Posted: Tue, 02/23/2021 06:22 pm

    Bottom line: the codifying of personal preferences into intrinsic rights is wrong on all moral and logical grounds.

  • RC
    Posted: Tue, 02/23/2021 09:27 pm

    How about this:  A Physician could refuse to provide certain kinds of medical care because they identify as being TransHippocraticoathabled.  Due to this condition, they are unable do any surgery, or provide care, they perceived as injurious to the patient. Since their healing identity does not conform to the current requirements they need to be included in a protected class under the law.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/24/2021 02:20 am

    Thanks Steve for covering this important topic.

    Elections have consequences and this is a serious one!  I wonder if any conservative Supreme Court Justices have any second thoughts about not examining the election - too late!  How about any anti-Trumpers? Are you sad about voting for that third party candidate? 

  •  CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/24/2021 11:22 am

    There are only 3 genders: male, female and neuter. If you try and change between male and female in either direction, you always get a neutered person.

    Posted: Fri, 02/26/2021 04:31 pm

    Neuter is not a gender. It's a condition. My spayed dog is still female. The geldings I in my youth were still male, just not capable of procreation.

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Wed, 02/24/2021 01:53 pm

    If this bill passes we will soon know a lot more about the pastors of our churches.