Joe Biden Promises Unity; The Equality Act Swings A Culture War Sword

Joe Biden Promises Unity; The Equality Act Swings A Culture War Sword

The Equality Act would enshrine into law the left’s ideological extremism on three of the most divisive issues of the day: sex, abortion, and religious liberty.
Margot Cleveland
By

Joe Biden ran on the promise of uniting America. Yet last week his fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the so-called Equality Act—a bill that if enacted into law promises to irrevocably divide this country.

While sold as civil rights legislation necessary to protect LGBTQ people from unjust discrimination, the statutory language of the Equality Act would instead enshrine into law the left’s ideological extremism on three of the most divisive issues of the day: sex, abortion, and religious liberty.

By redefining “sex” to include sex stereotypes and gender identity—defined broadly to mean an individual’s gender appearance, mannerisms, characteristics, or self-defined gender identity—the Equality Act demands American businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, employers, and state and local municipalities ignore reality and consider biological men as women, and vice versa. An individual need only declare an opposite-sex “gender identity” to “change” his sex under the law.

The substantive provisions of the Equality Act then mandate that virtually all restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms welcome individuals of the opposite sex based on their self-declared gender identity. Homeless shelters, domestic violence safehouses, juvenile detention facilities, and prisons likewise could not deny access to a man claiming a female identity. The spectacle of men who identify as women dominating female competitions will only increase, while opportunities for girls to excel on the athletic field and obtain college scholarships disappear.

These proposed changes promise to pit Americans against one another at the most devasting level—the local level. Neighbors, teachers, coaches, classmates, parents, school boards, and local businesses, unwilling to submit to this anti-science surreality, will fight for sanity (and safety) for their children. For their efforts, they will be branded bigots by some, forcing all to take sides.

The Equality Act also escalates the nearly 50-year-old cultural war over abortion launched in 1973 by the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. Although the legislation avoids the word “abortion” and employs the more genteel euphemism of “reproductive services,” the Equality Act threatens to federalize the demands of the abortion lobby that abortion be performed at even religious health-care facilities.

The Equality Act accomplishes this goal by defining sex to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” with the latter term interpreted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and federal courts to include abortion. The Equality Act then requires public accommodations, which include health-care systems, to treat abortion as no different from medical treatments that do not end the life of another human being. Or, in the jargon of the Equality Act: “Pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.”

Americans remain bitterly divided over abortion, and the proposed federal mandate will only further alienate our citizenry. With the hope of changing hearts, minds, and the law, prolife forces may tolerate a permissive abortion regime. But few will buckle to demands that they and their neighbors become complicit in killing innocent human beings.

The Equality Act seeks to ensure objectors—both to the abortion-access and the gender-identity mandates—also have no refuge in religion: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or “RFRA,” “shall not” provide a defense to a claim under The Equality Act, the House-passed bill reads.

RFRA passed the House unanimously in 1993, and only lost three votes in the Senate, before then-President Bill Clinton signed the popular religious liberties bill into law. Under RFRA, the government cannot substantially burden a person’s exercise of his or her religious beliefs, absent a compelling reason.

Today’s leading Democrats see no problem with burdening their fellow Americans’ free exercise of religion through passage of the Equality Act. Every Democrat member of the House voted in favor of the bill and, to date, every Democrat senator has pledged support for the legislation.

Our supposed “unity” president, Joe Biden, has promised to sign this divisive bill into law, having declared it a “legislative priority” for his first 100 days in office. You do not heal a country, however, by demanding the population surrender science, life, and their deeply held religious beliefs to the extreme left and the politicians beholden to their policies.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

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