The U.S. Senate is expected to debate and cast a vote on The Equality Act soon. A date has not been set, but President Biden has indicated he wants this legislation passed within his first 100 days in office. The bill was passed by the House at the end of February.
The legislation would amend existing federal civil rights laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin, to include protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Our religious liberty is at stake if this bill passes. Our parishes, schools, and charities would not be allowed to minister in accord with our beliefs because we would lose legal protection from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1994. This exemption is something that has never been at stake under federal legislation.
As noted in a USCCB backgrounder: In addition to effectively adding new classes to these titles, the Equality Act expands the definition of “public accommodations” from restaurants, hotels, and theaters to nearly every consumer service or place of commerce, gathering, or charity, notably including health care (§ 3). It also expressly makes available restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms to persons according to their “gender identity” rather than natural sex (§ 9). In addition to “sexual orientation or gender identity,” the Equality Act adds elements to the definition of “sex” to include “sex stereotypes” and “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” It also defines “sexual orientation” (“homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality”) and “gender identity” (“the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth”) themselves.
Please see the information below, and we encourage you to write our senators.
More information may be found here:
USCCB: https://www.usccb.org/equality-act#tab–backgrounders (scroll down toward the bottom for backgrounders)
The Person and Identity Project provides formation, resources, and pastoral guidance on issues of faith, “gender,” and sexual identity: https://personandidentity.com/