Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The founders of the United States of America were suspicious of government; so much so that they insisted on adding a written Bill of Rights to the Constitution. This past year has raised many concerns about how far governments can go to shut houses of worship for health reasons, silence free speech for safety reasons, or limit public assembly. However, the biggest danger to these basic freedoms is now before the U.S. Senate. It goes by the name of the “Equality Act.”
The stated goal of the bill is to protect people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and emerging identities, from discrimination. In order to accomplish this goal, it adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected categories under the Civil Rights Act. While the goal is laudable, the Equality Act turns out to be deeply intolerant. It would stifle many forms of free speech and deeply curtail religious freedom. And sadly, women’s rights activists stand to lose the most.
Even young children can tell the difference between “boy” and “girl”, “Mom” and “Dad”. Modern biology has identified that one of our 23 chromosome pairs is responsible for this differentiation. Males have an X chromosome from their mother and a Y chromosome from their fathers. Females have two X chromosomes, one from each parent. These express themselves in the balance of hormones and the development of sexual organs, but every cell in your body is marked with your sex. Sometimes there are problems with the chromosomes or the way these genes express themselves and their development into human bodies. In addition, there are also sometimes psychological issues with how people perceive and accept themselves. These struggles are real and deep. All persons of good will need to be understanding and accompany people who are struggling with their biology and identity.
But this is not what the Equality Act actually does. Instead, it disconnects the words Male and Female completely from the underlying biological reality. Society would be forced to accommodate whatever “gender” a person chooses to “identify as.” If a biological male arrives at school one day wanting to be a girl, you would have to call him ‘her’ and direct him to the girls’ bathroom, no questions asked. You would not be allowed to try and understand why this child is suddenly not happy with his own body.
The Equality Act would make this controversial “gender ideology” the law of the land. It goes out of its way to target religious believers by specifically exempting itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was passed nearly unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It also sneaks in a mandate for abortion by defining “sex” to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” It also expands “public accommodations” to anyone who serves the public. In other words, a Christian doctor who refuses to perform an abortion for moral reasons could be held to be discriminating against clients on the basis of sex, and it wouldn’t matter if she worked at a Catholic hospital because they are now defined as a “public accommodation.”
Many feminists are deeply concerned about women being forced to share restrooms, homeless shelters, scholarships and sports opportunities with biological males who “identify as female.” Feminist Mary Kate Fain was fired and canceled from speaking engagements after she questioned why many of her female friends were choosing to identify as “non-binary” (neither male nor female). In fact, so many feminist activists have been banned from Twitter, canceled from conferences, and blocked on the internet that they scheduled an “Evening with Canceled Women” at the New York Public Library. The event itself was suddenly, and inexplicably, canceled.
The Civil Rights movement showed us that having the right to vote, and being able to exercise that right, are two different things. If this generation is silent, we may no longer be able to exercise the cherished freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights. I encourage you to educate yourself on these important issues. A good place to start is the web page of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops: https://www.usccb.org/equality-act or at www.GBdioc.org. Speak up while you still can.
Published in the Antigo Daily Journal Friday, March 26, 2021