We live in an increasingly Orwellian world. Although it has become both a truism and a cliché to invoke the words and spirit of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 to describe the political (un)reality around us, it’s fair to say that, had Eric Arthur Blair had not thought of it first, the Western Civilization has more or less invented an Orwellian world by this point.
President Trump had come out against the bill, putting the act in jeopardy of an executive veto…
The world of 1984 is one where “newspeak,” the fictional language of Orwell’s totalitarian state, Oceania, has become the language of the political masters. Oceania’s rulers have devised a controlled language with a strict vocabulary designed to limit an individual’s ability to think and articulate, and they use it to describe lies as truth and war as peace. Through these machinations, the state has turned reality on its head, and nothing is as it appears to be.
Of course, politicians, time immemorial, have worked in an environment of euphemisms that tend to cloud or muddle the true intention of policies. But there is rarely an example of more Oceanic legislation than what the Democrats have concocted with The Equality Act.
Various versions of the bill have been proposed since the 1970s, but its most recent iteration was proposed by the 116th Congress. It was passed by the House of Representatives in May 2019 but was stalled in the Senate, which did not act. (Many suspected this was because President Trump had come out against the bill, putting the act in jeopardy of an executive veto).
On February 18th, the bill was reintroduced by the 117th Congress and passed through the House by a 224-to-206 vote along party lines. (Three Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of the legislation.) It’s now on its way to the Democrat-led Senate, under the aegis of President Biden, who pledged to “make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days” before Americans even took to the voting books last November.
If enacted, the so-called Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly extend discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act might as well be called the Inequality Act, however, because it provides privilege and strips others of true rights, and gives the government the power to dictate what sex and gender mean. It will trample on religious freedom, canceling the essential human rights of women in the process, and Republican (and all God-fearing, freedom-loving) Senate lawmakers should do everything in their power to prevent its passing.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TAKES A BACK SEAT TO COLLECTIVE RIGHTS
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this bill, it is worth considering just why the left demonstrates a nagging tendency to constantly expand rights, as if everyone didn’t already enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For, in expanding rights, we always run the risk of someone losing theirs—and that is precisely what the Equality Act does to people of faith and women.
Today’s left is committed to this program of jettisoning individual rights in favor of collective rights, which are guaranteed at the level of groups.
What bills like this actually do is erode individual, universal rights to grant special status to specific groups in society. Today’s left is committed to this program of jettisoning individual rights in favor of collective rights, which are guaranteed at the level of groups. The problem with collective rights is intuitive: it creates a society of competing groups (tribalism). In this frankly illiberal view of political freedom, those with the most power, who can acquire the most control over political institutions on behalf of their group or tribe, have the most rights.
Even when they complain that they have no rights, but let the advocates of the Equality Act speak for themselves.
“The LGBT community has waited long enough,” Rep. David Cicilline, (D-RI), a co-sponsor of the bill, said before the vote last month: “The time has come to extend the blessings of liberty and equality to all of Americans regardless of who they are and who they love.”
What exactly has the LGBT community been waiting for? Is homosexuality illegal? Are homosexuals being rounded up and herded into camps or publicly shamed? Of course not. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The LGBT “community” enjoys not only tolerance and acceptance in American society, but their lifestyle is lauded in popular culture as almost a preferred way of life characterized by an appreciation of the arts and cultivation of good taste in all things. (Remember “Will and Grace” or “Modern Family”?)
It has become nearly impossible for religious leaders to criticize, as many faith traditions do, same-sex liaisons, or to publically invoke Biblical prohibitions against them. In fact, these acts of religious freedom have repeatedly been labeled as “hate speech,” and can be subject to criminal prosecution.
The Equality Act will make this easier to do.
The bill specifically notes that it outstrips the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That law protected people who saw their religious freedom being revoked when legislation forced them to embrace sexuality that their faith did not approve of. We have all read about the court cases between bakeries and florists who have become test cases for just how far the LGBT activists can intrude into the lives of people of faith. The Equality Act would further marginalize religious communities, forcing businesses to provide services or goods that directly contravene the moral code or religious convictions of their owners.
When same-sex marriage was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015, many of us predicted that this was just the beginning of a reimagining of traditional morality and the beginning of the promotion of alternate lifestyles. Because what the LGBT advocates want is not equality—they already have that—they want blanket acceptance and the power to cancel anyone who doesn’t want to or feels morally obligated not to endorse their lifestyle.
Or, as Franklin Graham put it, “Have you heard of the Equality Act? The name might sound good, but it’s deceiving. It has nothing to do with equality. It’s just a smokescreen to force Americans to accept the LGBTQ agenda, and it creates a lot of INEQUALITY for Christians and all people of faith.” Of course, this is something we have been wrestling for many years: the ongoing attempt by LGBT activists to arrest religious freedom and impose their morality and lifestyle on people of faith.
BIOLOGICAL FACTS VS. PERSONAL CONTENTIONS
It’s not just that the Equality Act is an intrinsic violation of freedom of religion that is at stake here; it is the flagrant attempt to define my human rights through the prism of their experience.
[I]t would cancel the category of “woman” in favor of gender preference, with terrifying consequences.
The inclusion of transgender people into this bill makes the Equality Act an even more odious pill to swallow—and even more Orwellian. The Equality Act demands that we deny a biological fact for personal contention. In doing so, it would cancel the category of “woman” in favor of gender preference, with terrifying consequences.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told the Washington Examiner that the Equality Act would put female victims of sexual assault at risk of being assaulted again. “Well, the message of the Equality Act is, ‘Well, you’re just going to have to get over it because if a man wants to go into a women’s restroom and that’s where he feels like he should be, you are not going to be stopping him from doing no matter how traumatic it is,’” he said. “It’s really, just an incredible bill. And it also does massive damage to religious beliefs of most Christians, Jews, and Muslims, all from the Abrahamic faith.”
Because the Equality Act increases the number of businesses that can be classified as “public accommodations,” it means that women’s shelters and salons must now cater to the demands of transgender men. In fact, the bill explicitly cites both of these facilities as being covered under the legislation: “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services.”
So what does that mean? It means that a women’s shelter cannot turn away a biological male who says he identifies as a woman. That biological male would have the right to undress and sleep in the same room with biological women who identify as women—no matter how traumatic that experience would be for them or just how ludicrous the situation actually is. Single-sex spaces will become a thing of the past.
It becomes even more bizarre when you consider that salons are included. No, we are not just talking about hair salons, because there has never been a problem with a man having his hair cut with other women. But it becomes problematic when biological men decide, for instance, to have their public hair waxed at salons providing this service. A human rights tribunal in Canada actually ruled against transgender activist Jessica Yaniv, who filed a complaint against a salon where workers refused to wax his scrotum. (The tribunal ruled in October 2019 that Yaniv had “engaged in improper conduct” and “filed complaints for improper purposes,” according to the Post Millennial.)
America could soon be more liberal in its interpretation of transgender rights than Canada.
Serious question: if the Equality Act becomes law someday, would salons have to wax testicles of transwomen (as in the Jessica Yaniv case in Canada), or be guilty of civil rights law violation? Text of bill passed by Democratic House: https://t.co/FSZgRUCm9R
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) July 21, 2019
Consider also the effect on gyms and fitness clubs. Under this proposed law, biological men preferring to be women would be allowed to use women’s change rooms and bathrooms. Although this is quite factual, proponents of transgender rights have long dismissed this objection as heinous evidence of “transphobic” prejudice and not even worthy of discussion, further demonstrating how power plays a role in determining which groups are or are not able to advocate for rights under the left’s social vision.
But the bill is quite clear on this matter: “An individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”
Keep in mind that this would not be a recommendation or an option for some super progressive fitness establishment looking to meet all the current leftist criteria. This would be the law. And that law would force females to compete with biological boys and men—effectively eradicating women’s sports. Women cannot fairly compete with men—even those who identify as women. Will women’s sports teams ultimately be composed of transgender men in the not-so-distant future?
RIGHTS VS. PRIVILEGES
Joe Biden has praised the Equality Act as another one of those cornerstones of his foundationless administration. “The Equality Act provides long-overdue federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, locking in critical safeguards in our housing, education, public services, and lending systems—and codifying the courage and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement into enduring law,” he said.
[T]hat outrageous demand for privilege is taken seriously, sometimes even granted.
It is difficult to know if Biden actually believes this. There would certainly have been a time in his life when he would have thought the whole notion was just nonsense and dismissed it without a second thought. And so would just about everyone else. But we have moved so far to the left in codifying, not rights, but special status to any group that can claim a grievance. And that outrageous demand for privilege is taken seriously, sometimes even granted.
But when someone’s demand for privilege supersedes another person’s basic right to life and liberty, it’s time to cry foul and demand a return to sanity.
It is crucial to the continuity of liberty that we get back to a basic understanding of what rights and privileges are. As a heterosexual male, I do not have unlimited rights—far from it, as I learn every day. I do not have a right to a mortgage or to rent any apartment that I choose: I can be turned down. I do not have a right to disrobe in the local Walmart or drink and drive. I could be arrested. I do not have a right to date any woman I want to: I can be rejected—or my wife would probably divorce me!
Rights are not unlimited, as we all know, but often forget when some “community” or other demands some kind of special status.
If a man wants to identify as a woman, then he has a right to do so. He does not, however, have a right to impose that illusion on everybody else or to usurp the rights of women.
Whether we are talking about same-sex couples demanding that evangelical Christians embrace their sexuality, or transgender men insisting that women recognize their sexual preference, in both cases, we are talking about a gross violation of someone else’s basic liberty.
We need to stop creating more collective rights in order to focus on individual rights, as provided by God and defined in the Constitution. Anything else will be a descent into tribalism and fragmentation of true freedom as the gang with the bigger club gains ascendancy on the street (or the White House).