LGBT ‘Equality Act’ Debate Ramps Up in DC

On Tuesday, the House held the first congressional hearing on the Equality Act, a bill that would add explicit legal protections under federal law for LGBTQ people.

If passed, the bill would add the categories or “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The bill has already received heavy support from Democrats, as well as three Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania., John Katko of New York and Jennifer González-Colón of Puerto Rico. But conservatives, and even feminists, are warning against the bill, fearing it will crush free speech and endanger religious freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

Andrew T. Walker, the senior fellow in Christian Ethics at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, cautioned that “virtually no area of American life would emerge unscathed from the Equality Act’s reach.”

“It communicates that Christian beliefs about what it means to be male and female, and how marriage ought to be defined, are incompatible with what U.S. law considers to be decent, reasonable, goodwill convictions,” he wrote in an article for The Gospel Coalition website. “…The Equality Act equates Christian ethics with hatred and bigotry.”

Doreen Denny, senior director of government relations for Concerned Women for America explained the dangerous repercussions the Equality Act would have for American females

“The bill would create a world in which women and girls are no longer recognized, protected or dignified as uniquely female,” Denny said. “In jobs, in education, sports, shelter or any public space, any biological man classifying himself as a woman according to his ‘gender identity’ would have every claim to any women’s program, scholarship, sports roster, competition, boardroom, executive office, women’s shelter, bathroom, locker room or job.”

The Heritage Foundation, the nation’slargest conservative research and educational institution, claims that the Equality Act will in fact further inequality by “penalizing everyday Americans for their beliefs about marriage and biological sex.”

While the controversial bill is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House, it has an uncertain path in the GOP-controlled Senate.