The House of Representatives voted a few days ago to pass the Equality Act. But what does that mean? Is it really as simple and easy as “equality for everyone”? From what I can tell, not exactly.
I’ve read a bunch of stuff about it, including perusing the cumbersome bill itself. The bill contains a lot of words and ideas and many other people have muddied the legislative waters even further, not to mention the feel-good social media posts about it. However, my intention here is to relay what I understand as concisely, simply, and accurately as I am able. For a more thorough understanding, I recommend this article from Daily Wire, this article from NPR, and the actual text of the bill itself.
Firstly, the bill’s purpose is to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.”
According to Daily Wire, the Equality Act would increase protection from discrimination provided by the Civil Rights Act to not only cover federally funded programs, but to also cover “public accommodations,” which include online retailers, retail stores, transportation services, public gatherings, public displays, salons, shelters, stadiums, and more.
Additionally, the Equality Act supersedes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), meaning that businesses (i.e., business owners) wouldn’t be able to use religious freedom as a defense for declining goods or services to someone by saying that providing those goods or services would violate their deeply held religious beliefs, like what has been made popular with florists and bakers.
From what I understand, all of this translates to a massively overreaching federal government and an actual attempt to force equal outcome and not equal opportunity, with the added result of trampling on the rights of one person for the benefit of another person. I’m still trying to figure out how this squares with the “freedom of association” thing.
If I understand things correctly, failure to comply with this new bill would result in churches, synagogues, mosques, other religious organizations, and private businesses being subject to monetary fines, business shutdowns, and/or removal of their tax-exempt status or government funding.
For example, let’s say there is a government-funded women-only shelter with bed availability, and a biological male who identifies as a man wants to stay there because the men’s shelter is full and he doesn’t have another convenient place to go. That biological male who identifies as a man could say to the women-only shelter, “Oh yeah, I’m really a woman,” (without any evidence actually holding that belief) and the women-only shelter would be legally required to place him there because if they didn’t, then they would be discriminating against him based on his gender identity and their failure to accommodate him would result in them receiving monetary fines, the shelter being shut down, loss of their tax-exempt status, and/or loss of funding.
The same is true for a privately owned hair salon. If the hairstylist only wanted to cut women’s hair and a man walked in and requested a haircut, the stylist would be legally required to provide that service to him, even against the stylist’s wishes, i.e., nonconsensually, in order to avoid being fined by the government or having their business shut down altogether.
Sidebar: This quickly migrates to an interesting discussion about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 possibly being an overreach of the federal government in the first place because of that “freedom of association” thing, but that’s another discussion for another time.
Personally, I disagree with people who discriminate against others based on sex, race, creed, etc. However, I think people do have and ought to have the right to discriminate if they choose to do so and that it’s an overstep by the federal government to circumvent that right. I think it makes those who do discriminate terrible, awful people, but having freedom often means that we don’t always have to agree with what another individual does, especially if it isn’t infringing on the rights of others.
Let me try to clarify a little more in case things are murky. We all have a bunch of inherent, inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, to name a few. However, I do not have an inherent right to someone else’s goods or service, especially if it’s against their will and not consensual. Forcing them to provide their goods or services to me against their will would result in me walking on their rights, which isn’t right.
For example, if a sporting goods store rolled out a policy that said they won’t allow white people to shop in their establishment, that’s their prerogative (as awful as it is) and they should be permitted to do that. After all, I don’t have a fundamental right to their products or services.
Capitalism and the free market both suggest, and have proven, that someone else would place a store next to theirs that serves everyone, and then the other store would go out of business due to lack of sales because people wouldn’t shop there because of their terrible policy. Yay for the free market and capitalism!
If society believes that we have an inherent right to the goods and services of others, then the Equality Act can look rather appealing. However, if we acknowledge the reality that we don’t have an inherent right to the goods or services of others, then we can see it for the governmental power grab that it likely is.
I think it’s also important to remember that our freedom is pre-government, meaning that it comes from our Creator first and is to be protected by the government. Not the other way around.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Opinions?
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