Why The So-Called Equality Act Is A Bait-and-Switch Power Grab

Why The So-Called Equality Act Is A Bait-and-Switch Power Grab

The ‘Equality’ Act doesn’t really protect anybody. It undermines human freedom and dignity by legally stripping Americans across the board of inalienable rights.
Stella Morabito
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Let’s place ourselves, for a moment, into the mindset of a statist. If you and your cronies wanted to control everybody’s lives, how exactly would you go about getting such raw power? Obviously, you wouldn’t come right out and say you have a special project designed specifically to cement a permanent one-party state.

You wouldn’t explain, full disclosure, that the ever-growing bureaucracy you have in mind would promote a surveillance state and coercion that produces toxic levels of social distrust. You wouldn’t clarify that the point is to keep tabs on everyone in every aspect of their lives, including their education, their businesses, their medicine, their housing, their families, and their churches.

No, of course not. You would mask your self-supremacist intentions with a benign and trendy word like “equality.” You’d pretend that your project was about helping a vulnerable minority. To prevent scrutiny, you’d quickly shame anybody who had a question about it and defame them as haters. At the same time, you’d give special favors to those who can be persuaded to support your con job.

That’s usually how such things are done, as the history of authoritarian systems proves.

Sowing a Colossal Inequality of Power

So we have the “Equality” Act, recently introduced by Democrats in Congress. It’s currently being considered in various committee hearings and is on track for a floor vote in the House of Representatives later this spring or early this summer.

On the surface, the “Equality” Act is supposed to protect LGBT folks from discrimination by adding the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to all federal civil rights laws, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It would make claims of discrimination related to these characteristics legally actionable in the way racism is, and aapplying to virtually every area of life: the workplace, education, banking, jury service, federal funding, housing, medicine and psychiatry, and all public facilities.

It is a power grab in the guise of anti-discrimination. A bait-and-switch. It’s another attempt by a ruling micro-clique to exert mega-control over everyone else’s lives, including those it purports to protect. It allows the Mass State to maximize bureaucracy and social engineering, especially by its huge regulation of speech and expression. It erodes individual rights while claiming to uphold them.

Sane people of goodwill have a host of good reasons to object to the so-called Equality Act. And many of those reasons have been written up, including the de-sexing of toilets and showers, the compelled speech inherent in pronoun protocols and severe punishment for “misgendering,” the promised harassment of business owners, the invasion of girls’ and women’s sports by biological men who force on them an unequal playing field, the utter contempt for individual conscience, and more.

The net result of this act would be a huge inequality of power accrued to the state and drained from the individual. Below I offer five general reasons to object to this legislation.

I think they give us a more macro view of how it would destabilize a free society, by 1) undermining the First Amendment; 2) threatening the rule of law; 3) nudging us towards a social credit system; 4) redefining humanity; and 5) enshrining identity politics in law. In short, the “Equality” Act doesn’t really protect anybody. It undermines human freedom and dignity by legally stripping Americans across the board of inalienable rights.

1. It Undermines Everyone’s First Amendment Rights

Our First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, and association are clearly targeted by the “Equality” Act. It explicitly invalidates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that anybody caught in this bill’s legal web is pre-emptively stripped of the right to express his or her conscience without loss of liberty and property.

So the mask is off. All prior promises of conscience clauses in past incarnations of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws are hereby exposed as bait intended only to push through bad laws until conscience protections could be abolished.

This act would suspend the right to free expression in secular daily life. There can be no question that it will lead to compelled speech. One huge hint is the 2015 New York law that compels speech by slapping a fine of up to $250,000 for the crime of using a sex-matched pronoun on someone who doesn’t want that. Federal law would take a page from Twitter, which suspends the accounts of users who are viewed as not compliant with transgender politics.

Freedom of association would also take a big hit. With its emphases on perceptions of gender identity (both self-perception and one’s perceptions of gender identity), a defendant who may have been perceived to raise an eyebrow can be threatened with loss of livelihood and even jail time. It’s bound to sow social distrust and a fear of guilt by association with a defendant.

It will also have huge repercussions for freedom of association. As I’ll note below, the Equality Act would erase sex distinctions in law, which means open war on family relationships. We’ve already seen a court removing of parental custody of a minor child identifying as transgender for refusing to have their child injected with powerful hormones.

It also places Big Brother into the therapist’s office by banning any sort of talk therapy that might lead to a patient undoing a transgender decision or going from gay to straight, even if the patient wanted to do so. This one-way street goes under the moniker “conversion therapy,” which the “Equality” Act explicitly bans.

Nevermind that there are already plenty of laws against coercion and medical malpractice on the books. A ban on so-called conversion therapy uses a few cases of malpractice essentially to ban open conversations with a cognitive therapist. This is not the sort of law a free people seek. It is reminiscent, however, of the sort of law cult leaders have always sought to prevent people from leaving the cult.

2. The Ambiguities in the Bill Threaten the Rule of Law

The first thing that should hit any reader of the so-called Equality Act is the ambiguity of its language, especially with the bill’s outright emphasis throughout on “perceptions.”

We should ask ourselves: How does the rule of law survive such intangibles? The bill is set up to pass harsh judgments on how people are perceived or how people perceive things. Such haziness is guaranteed to create wide latitude for an arbitrary system of punishment and rewards, with no regard for (or even much possibility for) due process.

It would have to calculate your intent, read your mind, check out your body language, pick you apart for any suggestion of malice.

It injects into numerous federal anti-discrimination laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a new protected class that is defined not by an immutable and noticeable characteristic like race and sex, nor of a person’s religious beliefs, which are inherent to First Amendment protections.

Instead, the newly injected category is “LGBT,” which refers to an entire panoply of personal relationships, social activities, attitudes, and various feelings of identity that can change from day to day. Granted, LGBT activists have succeeded in getting numerous state and local SOGI laws on the books. But a blanket fiat on the federal level is certain to open wider floodgates of abuse in interpreting and punishing any perception of discrimination, real or imagined.

Consider how much the “Equality” Act would rely on bureaucratic and court actors to divine the “perception” of the perpetrator or victim of so-called discrimination: it would have to calculate your intent, read your mind, check out your body language, pick you apart for any suggestion of malice. For example, it repeatedly refers to sexual orientation and gender identity as “actual or perceived.” Many times throughout, the text notes that discrimination (or identity?) involves “perception or belief even if inaccurate” (emphasis mine).

This dependence on perception or belief about a person’s self-identity did not exist before. The language of this proposed law is more fluid than gender fluidity on steroids, and it’s wild stuff to push, especially at the federal level. It invites no end of accusations and lawfare that bodes ill for society and promises much human wreckage. The only people “empowered” by such a scam are those on the upper levels of this newly devised food chain who can call the shots.

3. Nudge Toward a Chinese-style Social Credit System

If passed, we shouldn’t be surprised if it eventually produces a social credit system not unlike what is happening in China, whereby your livelihood, education, career, mobility, and access to goods and services is based on a literal “score” of your compliance with government policy. To paraphrase Sir Richard Scruton’s excellent observation of how that works in China, I’d say that the so-called Equality Act would help create robots out of Americans, with the state programming what they can say and do.

As more people self-censor because of the risk of losing their livelihoods and social status, they simply become more prone to robotic compliance and conformity with limits on their speech. This is fast becoming the case in China, where citizens feel the need to build up their “social credit” to be allowed access to jobs, education, housing, and who knows what other goods and services. The so-called Equality Act’s restrictions on First Amendment freedoms would be a big step in that direction.

A social credit system that scores you for conformity would be a logical effect of the intent of the Equality Act: to punish free expression in just about every sphere of life, including the workplace, at school, in the public square, and in all public facilities, and any place that might be connected with federal funding. (By the way, Scruton was punished—stripped of his chairmanship of an architectural commission in Britain—simply for explaining what the social credit system does to people in China. That should be another lesson for us here.)

4. Redefining Humanity By Outlawing Sex Distinctions

The “Equality” Act is de-humanizing because it essentially de-sexes all of us in law. It does so in two ways. First, it abolishes the legal definition of sex as a physical reality by incorporating both sexual orientation and gender identity—which means your perception of your sex—into its very definition of sex. Wherever the term “sex” appears in federal anti-discrimination law, the so-called Equality Act parenthetically adds the words “including gender identity and sexual orientation.”

Eliminating sex distinctions in law is the most effective path to abolishing state recognition of biological familial relationships.

Second, the act embeds a premise into its definition of gender identity that tells every American that his or her physical sex should not be legally recognized as real. Here’s its definition: “The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerism, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

The key phrase here is “regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth,” which means that genitalia, or any distinction between male and female, would be irrelevant to any legal definition of sex. Many SOGI laws use the phrase “sex assigned at birth.” Either way, the premise is the same: physical reality has nothing to do with your maleness or femaleness.

This premise would apply to everybody universally, not merely those who choose to believe in a gender spectrum. More jurisdictions like Oregon are allowing people to opt out of sex distinctions altogether on official identification. With such laws, your sexual identity is deemed to be all in your mind, even if your perception is aligned with physical reality. So your sexed body essentially becomes unrecognized in law.

We should note that eliminating sex distinctions in law is the most effective path to abolishing state recognition of biological familial relationships. Once we no longer recognize male and female as distinct legal identities, any family relationships based on those distinctions—mother or father, son or daughter, husband or wife—fade away.

5. It Enshrines Socially Destructive Identity Politics

The so-called Equality Act depends entirely on a spirit of resentment embedded in identity politics. Identity politics can be summed up as the belief that your worth as an individual depends on your politically correct victim status.

Identity politics have been a plague on the nation, dividing and pigeon-holing everyone.

Increasingly, it relies on the concept of “intersectionality,” which scores your status according to which groups you belong to by race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and so on. If you are perceived as “white” and heterosexual, for example, gurus of identity politics will deem you guilty of “white privilege” in an effort to smear you and cut your voice off from public discourse.

Those who push identity politics rely heavily on promoting stereotypes and caricatures of people with no interest in getting to know people as individuals. Thus identity politics have been a plague on the nation, dividing and pigeon-holing everyone instead of allowing citizens to aspire to live happily as unique individuals with unique personalities.

This erases the intrinsic worth and dignity we all have as human beings. The regime of identity politics doesn’t allow people to interact freely with one another, which would allow us to achieve the sort of social balance we would need in order to optimize social harmony.

If members of Congress succumb to the toxins of identity politics by passing this act, they will have done enormous damage to the health of American society. In the end, it means that our worth would be assigned to us by the state, as is done in all authoritarian systems.

The Mass State Decides What Equality Means

The reasons I list above all come down to one trenchant point worth repeating yet again: this proposed law is a thinly veiled power grab by statists. The LGBT demographic is simply the victim group used as their pawn, their vehicle, the means to that end.

For the moment, people who identify as LGBT might seem protected by it, but if enacted, the law is designed to generate a hydra-headed monster of the Mass State that will take on a chaotic life of its own. It’ll mete out “protections” by whim. In the end, it just won’t protect anybody.

That’s because those running the show won’t be concerned about anything but maintaining the unchecked power that measures such as this ambiguously worded bill would bestow upon them. Any bureaucrat or judge can simply cherry pick from the act’s wording to decide whether you qualify as “equal, unequal, or something else.”

George Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm” included the maxim that “some animals are more equal than others.” Along with the 1984 slogan “Slavery is Freedom,” Orwell could easily have predicted the “Equality Act.” It’s a weird new world.

Stella Morabito is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow Stella on Twitter.
Photo Chad Greene / The Federalist

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