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How the “Equality Act” Strips Away Our Free Speech

Sarah Kramer
Written by
Shawnee State University professor and ADF client Dr. Nicholas Meriwether

Anyone who values free speech should be wary of the deceptively named “Equality Act.”

President Joe Biden has promised to push for the passage of the Act during his first 100 days, which would have the effect of adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected statuses in federal nondiscrimination law. And with a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, the passage of such legislation is more likely than ever before.

While it might sound innocent enough, the “Equality Act” poses a severe threat to our First Amendment freedoms—our freedom of religion and speech in particular.

So far, we’ve taken a look at how the “Equality Act” would negatively impact  business ownerschurches and religious schools, and adoption and foster care providers. But even if you don’t fall into one of those groups, you should still be concerned about this proposed legislation.

Here’s why.

The “Equality Act” could regulate speech, forcing certain beliefs and ideas out of the public square under the threat of punishment.

Specifically, those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman or that biological sex is immutable could, in too many circumstances, no longer be permitted to speak or act consistently with those beliefs. Even worse, the “Equality Act” could force individuals to speak messages that contradict their beliefs.

We’ve seen clear examples of this already on public university campuses.

In Ohio, officials at Shawnee State University punished a professor for declining to refer to a male student as a woman.

One day after class, a male student approached Dr. Nicholas Meriwether and demanded to be referred to as a woman. When Dr. Meriwether did not immediately agree, the student became aggressive, circling him, getting in his face, swearing at him, and promising to get Dr. Meriwether fired. Ultimately, the student filed a complaint with the university.

Dr. Meriwether believes that God has created human beings in His image, male or female—and that God does not make mistakes. He also believes it is harmful to speak lies about someone’s created nature. To respect the student as well as his own beliefs, he offered a compromise: He would refer to the student by first or last name only.

At first, the University accepted that compromise. But when the student continued to demand being called by female pronouns, the University changed its mind. Shawnee State officials demanded that Dr. Meriwether refer to this student as a woman and disciplined him when he declined to do so. Right now, he risks losing his job if he does not comply with the officials’ unconstitutional demands.

This example gives us a glimpse of the many problems we could witness across the nation if the “Equality Act” is made the law of the land.

There would be far less room for disagreement on important topics such as marriage, human sexuality, and gender. Instead, the government could simply declare which ideas are welcome in the public square and which might be excluded. Not only that, but it could have the power to force those who disagree with its favored ideology to pay lip service to that ideology.

And if the government has that power, that’s bad news for us all.

Our laws must respect freedom and promote justice for every citizen, no matter who they are. But that is not what the “Equality Act” does. Instead, it threatens Americans’ fundamental liberties. And that is something no American should stand for.

That’s where you come in.

Will you commit to standing for the freedoms upon which this nation was founded?

Every generation faces a unique moment when it is called on to protect the guarantee of liberty enshrined in our Constitution. This is our moment. This is your moment. Today, you can help defend the American promises of life and liberty.

If you believe these promises are worth defending, please sign the statement.

  • I stand for America’s founding principles: that all men are created equal with inalienable, God-given rights.
  • I stand against any unlawful effort by the Biden administration to restrict my constitutional liberties.
  • I stand for freedom and will join Alliance Defending Freedom to preserve free speech, religious freedom, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and marriage and family.
Sarah Kramer
Digital Content Specialist
Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.