Updated: Sep 14, 2019
On May 20, 2019, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, introduced the Equality Act as a means "to prohibit discrimination based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes." Since 1923, many versions of an Equality Act have surfaced in the United States political arena.
The most notable of which is the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) introduced in the 1970s. While 35 states ratified this amendment, guaranteeing equal legal rights regardless of sex over the 7-year ratification timeline, the ERA ultimately failed to gain enough support to satisfy the 38 state ratification minimum. The Equality Act includes the core principles found in the Equal Rights Amendment; nevertheless, the slight name change and recent celebrity advocacy have helped create traction for the new version of this Amendment which is more reflective of a pop-culture fad than a serious attempt at proposed legislation.
Proponents of the Equality Act, and its predecessor, exclusively highlight positive attributes while ignoring or consciously suppressing any negative implications. Furthermore, many Americans believe the ERA was passed and became law. With such generous inventions, both proposals conceal their deadly message of coerced inclusivity.
Both the ERA and the current Equality Act use vague and over general terms which could be used to coerce compliance from those who the act determines to be discriminating. Compelling action, against one's own beliefs, is in opposition to the intent of the framers of our democracy. The most well known example of this is the more recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of a baker in Colorado who refused to make cakes for a same-sex couple. Other cases such as a farmer not being able to sell produce on public land because of their beliefs in traditional marriage have brought into question how "inclusive" these proposed laws really are.
Due to such vague terms as "discrimination based on sex," almost any institution that does not have enough of a specific group of people, could face legal penalties. Institutions that do not have enough women or LGBTQ individuals could be seen as discriminating. Not enough women in computer science, discrimination. Not enough female truck drivers, discrimination, disregarding the point that some women may choose to pursue different interests concerning jobs verses men. Almost anything could be seen as discrimination based on such loose standards and the refusal to define terms. By playing with a flexible use of the word, employers hoping to avoid law suits will be forced to find individuals from preferred groups to meet arbitrary quotas enforced by society's new caretakers.
If recent court cases focused on the public condemnation of charities based on their religious affiliations set any precedent for the future, these arbitrary laws and regulations will only make matters worse. The Catholic Church is one of the largest charities in the planet, providing millions of dollars to the 5,500 hospitals, 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly, most located in underdeveloped and developing countries. Unfortunately, if we live in a society that is under strict guidance of the ERA or Equality Act, the church can wave goodbye to its freedoms enshrined in the constitution outlining the separation of church and state. The Catholic Church is transparent in regards to its beliefs, which cuts against many of the core tenets of this new age perceived discrimination. Not allowing women to become priests and refusing to marry same-sex couple has been a standard line of attack for those seeking to make all of society conform to their progressive social mores. Legal attacks that have been leveled against charitable and religious organizations in court further question the government's involvement in religious activity. Some of these attacks have met with success. In March 2018, the city of Philadelphia urged families to adopt around 300 in need children while simultaneously pursuing a lawsuit against Catholic adoption agencies based on their refusal to give children to same-sex couples (which are in line with their long-held religious principles). Pushing religious institutions to conform to over-generalized laws will not suddenly inspire them to become more "inclusive". Churches and charitable organizations will relocate their operations to other areas which are in keeping with their belief system, hurting the people they seek to help the most.
There could be a place in our laws for well defined anti-discrimination laws. However, the ERA and Equality Act are poorly proposed representations for this. If these laws were to be in-acted, they would embody what they sought so vigorously to oppose, discriminatory on an undemocratic level, typically only found in autocratic regimes. No one with culturally or religiously differing viewpoints would be deemed acceptable as the government clamps down on whichever traditional social norm of the day it chooses. Attacking religious institutions, private businesses to restrict freedom of speech would become routine. There is a place in our country for well defined anti-discrimination laws, but the ERA and the Equality Act do not meet the standard for a just society.