The So-Called Equality Act
On October 30, 2008, Barack Obama said, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." The legal policy changes wrought under the Obama Administration paved the way for the so-called Equality Act, HR 5, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 17, 2019 by a vote of 236 to 173. The Equality Act would fundamentally and radically alter Civil Rights Law to prohibit "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," in the same way racial discrimination is prohibited.
Analysis by pro-life and pro-family organizations, as well as the U.S. Catholic Bishops, have warned that the Equality Act would:
- Require faith-based hospitals, doctors and nurses to participate in and/or to perform or assist with abortions or lose their medical licenses;
- Require tax funding of all abortions without restrictions;
- Mandate that any entity that provides health care for pregnancy and childbirth be required to provide abortion as a "related medical condition";
- Force women to share private, intimate spaces with men who "identify" as female including in bathrooms, lockers, schools, hospitals, prisons, gyms, military barracks and homeless shelters;
- Disallow private school single sex sports teams from competing against public school sports teams, which will no longer be permitted to have "discriminatory" single sex teams;
- Decertify Catholic and Christian schools from satisfying state compulsory attendance laws if they refuse to adopt LGBTQ policies, treating religious schools as "hate groups" comparable to the Ku Klux Klan;
- Forbid groups like the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Charities and Christian non-profits from receiving community block grants from local governments for housing for the disabled or seniors unless they accommodate the LGBTQ agenda including hiring those who identify as homosexual or transgender;
- Prohibit private schools and churches from obtaining construction loans from federally chartered banks or savings institutions unless the schools and churches implement the LGBTQ agenda including hiring active homosexual and transgender teachers in same sex "marriages";
- Remove children from the legal custody of their parents if they try to prevent their minor children from taking cancer-causing, puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones recommended by school counselors or provided by social welfare agencies;
- End women-only or men-only shelters serving drug addicts, the battered, and the homeless;
- Decertify foster care and adoption agencies which do not place children with homosexual partners;
- Require small businesses owned to promote and affirm LGBTQ sexual behavior or face fines and/or loss of their business licenses;
- Remove the tax-exempt status of churches and agencies if they fail to "celebrate" same-sex "weddings." The Equality Act would classify churches as "public accommodations" (like hotels and restaurants), prohibited from denying services on account of sexual orientation, in the same manner services cannot now be denied on account of race.
Several Republican members of the Judiciary Committee tried to blunt the coercive effects of HR 5, by proposing amendments that would have prevented biological females from being forced to compete against biological males in any sporting event; protected health care providers from being forced to affirm the self-professed gender identity of an individual; protected parental rights to direct the medical care of their children against efforts to facilitate changing the sexual identity of their children; and restored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act's conscience and religious liberty protections. All of these amendments were defeated on straight party line votes, proving that proponents of the Equality Act intend to require every policy the amendments sought to prohibit.
The "Equality Act" is one egregious example of sexual progressives stepping up efforts to exclude from the public square those who live by the moral teachings of Moses and Jesus. Anyone who disagrees or questions the LGBTQ agenda, abortion and "reproductive rights" is described as guilty of depravity, bigotry and hatred, despite our following a faith based on loving God and loving our neighbor.
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer) advocates preach "tolerance" but one prominent homosexual advocate, Frank Bruni, wrote in the April 3, 2015, NY Times: "... debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices ... Mitchell Gold, a prominent ... gay philanthropist ... told me that church leaders must be made 'to take homosexuality off the sin list.' ..."
Multi-millionaire leftist donor Tim Gill, who developed Quark Express, a desktop publishing program, announced his jarring diktat, "We're going to punish the wicked," in the June 2017 Rolling Stone magazine. Gill considers anyone, including Christians, who disagrees with LGBTQ policies "the wicked." Mary Bonauto, the attorney, "married" to a woman, who argued the Obergefell same-sex "marriage" case, said, "We would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation."
…..The window of opportunity for implementing successful civic action will not remain open forever, especially if Leftists have their way and succeed in pushing atheistic socialism and curbs on religious liberty. If we truly love our neighbors, and care enough to protect our families and communities from the ever-encroaching and growing persecution of Christians and others who embrace natural law values, then we must become the salt, the light and the leaven of society. If we fail to act in the public square, more immoral policies will spread and harm those we love. Pray, and like the Good Samaritan, also act. The story of Cain and Abel makes clear that we are our "brother's keeper."
The book of Hosea reminds us that, "My people are destroyed for lack of Knowledge." We must have knowledge of the Word of God, as well as knowledge of the civil world. St. Paul appealed to Caesar on the grounds that he, as a Roman citizen, should not be turned over to the Sanhedrin to be silenced, and Moses grew up in Pharaoh's household learning the ropes of government so God could rely on him to help the Jewish people.
Likewise, we need to become more knowledgeable about civic affairs and understand that each one of us has an important role to play during this particular time in history. Let us be motivated and remain hopeful, courageous, and persistent in the age-old fight between good and evil playing out today.
Robert Marshall served 26 years as a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 13th District. He authored two books: Blessed are the Barren [Ignatius Press, 1991] and Reclaiming the Republic: How Grassroots Christians (and other Conservatives) Can Win Back America [Tan Books, 2018].
He and his wife reside in Manassas, Va.