Equality Act would stomp religious conservatives
When the Democratic Party takes over the White House and both chambers of Congress in a few days, one obvious target is religious conservatives who interfere with the Left’s version of progress — but there is legislation waiting for the passage that would swiftly take care of that burdensome problem.
President-elect Joe Biden vowed before Election Day to pass the Equality Act if elected, and to pass it within 100 days of taking office, The Hill reported in October.
In a post-election story, USA Today suggested America’s views on homosexuality have progressed to the point that it’s past time to amend and update Civil Rights-era laws guaranteeing fair housing and equal employment with the Equality Act, which would ensure the same legal protections for homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
“Still,” the news story opined, “many Republican lawmakers who say they back equality for marginalized groups see LGBTQ rights in particular as inevitably at odds with religious liberty.”
That single reference to religious beliefs, mentioned in the 27th paragraph of a 29-paragraph news story, essentially summarizes how the Left and their media allies view religious conservatives, who continue to stand firm on their biblical beliefs about marriage, homosexuality, and sin.
“What the Left has been trying to do, and they’re going to continue to try to do with the Equality Act and other legislation,” says Walker Wildmon, a spokesman for American Family Association, “is … punish people who have sincerely held religious beliefs.”
One News Now has documented Christian state-level punishment for years now, such as Colorado baker Jack Phillips and Kentucky print shop owner Blaine Adamson. Still, the Equality Act promises to go beyond local and state legal fights since the Equality Act’s passage would update the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That means a Christian baker such as Phillips, after refusing a cake order for a homosexual wedding, could face off against the U.S. Dept. of Justice and its Civil Rights Division.
In a 2019 op-ed, also published by USA Today, self-described “gay conservative” Brad Polumbo warns the legislation “purports” to protect LGBT people such as himself by promising legal protections in everything from employment to jury selection.
“Yet the bill defined ‘public accommodations’ so loosely and called for regulations so sweeping,” he writes, “that it would crush religious freedom and radically reshape American society.”
The controversial topic of “public accommodation” isn’t new. In 2016, One News Now reported four Massachusetts churches sued in federal court after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled churches are not exempt from the state government’s “public accommodation” laws that regulate businesses on behalf of the state’s homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
In a decision that foreshadows passage of the Equality Act, the state commission determined churches fall under the state’s then-new non-discrimination law if they hold events open to the public. In particular, the commission ruled, that meant churches must follow state law on the issue of “gender identity” in their pews and presumably in their restrooms.
The lawsuit was withdrawn in late 2019 after the Massachusetts attorney general assured the plaintiffs the law applies to churches in “certain narrow circumstances,” and the state website removed “houses of worship” from its list of places of public accommodation. Such a legal compromise, which benefitted the four churches, would presumably end if the Equality Act becomes federal law.
Reacting to future passage of the Equality Act, radio talk-show host Janet Mefferd tells One News Now the bill has no exemptions at all for religious organizations — and that, she warns, is no oversight on the part of Democrats.
“These people don’t want any religious exemptions whatsoever,” she emphasizes. “They recognize that Christians’ freedom to be able to invoke their biblical stances is a problem for inverting morality.”
A legal win ‘by default’
According to Wildmon, passage of the Equality Act would require “gutting” the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The compromise bill, signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, was viewed as protection for religious beliefs after a controversial 1990 court decision. It passed with near-unanimous consent in the House and Senate.
The op-ed by Polumbo also warns about the Equality Act ending RFRA.
That is because, he writes, legal language in the Equality Act means the discrimination claims of a homosexual plaintiff would win in court “by default” over the First Amendment and religious claims of another American.
If true, that would turn the 1993 law upside down. Citing the so-called Sherbert Test, the language of the 1993 law strengthened the First Amendment and religious liberty by forcing upon the federal government the burden of showing why religious freedom must be violated.
The wrongly-named Equality Act, Polumbo writes, tosses that legal burden aside along with religious freedom itself.
From News Now by Billy Davis, Steve Jordahl
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