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The True Impact of the “Equality Act”

February 3, 2020

In Connecticut, a young woman watched as her dream of winning state and regional track competitions and standing on the victory podium was unfairly snatched from her when she was forced to compete against two high school boys who identify as female.

In Alaska, government officials threatened to use a city law to force a women’s shelter to allow men to sleep three feet away from vulnerable women who have been trafficked and abused.

In Pennsylvania, government officials forced a foster-care provider to stop serving kids in need because of its commitment to placing children in homes with a mother and father.

These stories aren’t mere hypotheticals. These are the stories of real victims. And yet some groups are promoting federal legislation that, if enacted, would create victims like these and many more across the nation.


The Problem

Our laws should protect the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of every citizen, no matter who they are. And every person should be treated with dignity and respect. But some groups are promoting legislation that would result in significant harm to some of the most vulnerable among us. 

In recent years, government officials and others have used state and local laws to threaten the freedom of millions of Americans. The laws are known as SOGI laws because they elevate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to new legally protected classifications. 

They’re often put forth under the guise of “tolerance” or “inclusion.” But instead of advancing tolerance, when these laws have been adopted at the state and local level, they’ve actually created victims. In fact they’ve opened the door to government-mandated discrimination, inequality, and coercion, and have stifled our growth toward a more welcoming and pluralistic nation.

It should come as no surprise, then, that in light of these laws’ mounting harmful consequences, nearly every state has declined to enact them over the past decade, with only one exception. But rather than admit such legislation harms Americans and violates our most basic rights and the best of our nation’s traditions, SOGI law proponents have doubled down and raised their efforts to a national scale. 

Some Members of Congress have introduced SOGI legislation – deceptively called the “Equality Act” – in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. 

Rather than promoting a flourishing, diverse, and pluralistic society, the “Equality Act” would mandate federal government overreach and censorship of Americans from all walks of life. 


The Victims

SOGI laws fail to bring about the fairness they are allegedly designed to create. One need look no further than the stories of those who’ve found themselves targeted by these laws. And if it is enacted, the “Equality Act” would only lead to more heartbreaking stories of victims across the nation. 

SOGI laws remove the equal opportunities and fair playing fields women have worked so hard to achieve. 

In the area of athletics, for example, this recently played out at the high school level in Connecticut’s track and field championships. Competitors Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and fellow female athletes were cheated out of a fair opportunity to compete because the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference allowed two boys who identify as female to compete against the girls. Not surprisingly, the two male athletes have frequently placed first and second with times significantly better than those of the female athletes.

These laws also violate women and girls’ privacy, safety, and dignity.

Consider these examples. The city of Anchorage attempted to use one of these laws to force a women’s shelter, the Downtown Hope Center, to allow men who identify as female to sleep just three feet away from women who have survived sex trafficking, rape, and domestic violence. A Pennsylvania high school quietly adopted an “open-door” SOGI-like policy, permitting boys who identify as female to use the girls’ locker rooms and restrooms. A Georgia school district, relying on its SOGI policy, allowed a male student who identified as “gender fluid” to use the girls’ restroom, leading to the sexual assault of a five-year-old girl.

SOGI laws negatively impact non-profit organizations of all kinds, including social services, ministries, religious organizations, and churches. 

They impact people like Pastor Esteban Carrasco and House of Destiny Ministries. When Pastor Esteban and his church sought to open a women’s shelter for survivors of domestic violence, Massachusetts officials told them that men who identify as female must be able to use the same changing rooms, restrooms, and living facilities as these vulnerable women.

SOGI laws are particularly harmful to the vulnerable children that reside within our nation’s foster and adoption care system.

The state of Illinois targeted adoption and foster providers, forcing them to violate their commitment to placing children in homes with a married mom and dad. The state’s actions resulted in more than 2,000 children being displaced because it effectively prevented valuable providers like Catholic Charities from serving children, birth moms, and their families.

Government officials have repeatedly used local and state SOGI laws to target and punish small business owners.

These are creative professionals like Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, and Blaine Adamson who serve everyone, but, like most creative professionals, can’t express every message or celebrate every event. 

The bottom line is that SOGI legislation like the “Equality Act” doesn’t offer equality or fairness. It offers victims.

But there is a solution.


The Solution

America’s ongoing legacy is one of freedom and prosperity for all of her citizens. To ensure freedom and prosperity for the next generation, we must never cease to stand for the freedom of all—even those with whom we might disagree.

To ensure America continues to be the most welcoming, flourishing, and prosperous nation in the world, our laws must respect and advance the following principles:

  • Every American should be free to peacefully live and work consistent with their beliefs, without government coercion.
  • Every American should be free to associate with others around shared values and beliefs and to form organizations, businesses, and other groups. Those associations should be free to peacefully advance their missions and to expect their members to share the association’s values, beliefs, and mission to ensure a rich, robust marketplace of ideas.
  • Every American should be free to peacefully express himself or herself at home, work, school, and in the community without fear of government censorship or punishment. While Americans will disagree very strongly with each other at times, respecting differences allows for civil discourse and healthy dialogue in a diverse society. 
  • Every American should be treated with dignity and respect by all levels of government, and our lawmakers should dispense justice with integrity and impartiality.
  • Every American should be able to expect safety and privacy in sex-specific facilities.

America is a tolerant and inclusive nation, filled with a diversity of people, beliefs, and ideals. As we continue to live and work together, let us always embrace the foundation that brought us together. We can disagree on so many things. But we should agree on the principle that our laws must preserve the freedom of all. 

Together, let’s be all for freedom. 


Resources

Want to learn more about the “Equality Act” and understand why this legislation – and other proposals like it – should be rejected?

Check Out These Resources

Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith


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