President Joe Biden urged Congress Friday to “swiftly pass” the Equality Act, setting him squarely on a collision course with the U.S. Catholic Bishops.
“Full equality has been denied to LGBTQ+ Americans and their families for far too long,” Biden said in a statement. “Despite the extraordinary progress the LGBTQ+ community has made to secure their basic civil rights, discrimination is still rampant in many areas of our society.”
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.
The U.S. Bishops, along with numerous other faith leaders, have expressed their consternation over the prospect of the Equality Act, urging Congress not to pass the legislation, which would be especially damaging to women and devastating to religious freedom.
In a 2019 letter to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, the bishops and other Christian leaders said the Equality Act “hinders quality health care, endangers the privacy and safety of women and girls, regulates free speech, severely undermines religious freedom, and threatens charitable nonprofits and the people they serve.”
The proposed legislation is not about treating all people “with equal dignity and respect,” they noted, but would “mandate that all health care professionals and providers perform gender transition procedures that go against many such providers’ best medical judgment, not to mention their deeply held moral or religious convictions.”
The legislation would also “undermine civil rights for women and girls by opening restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities to biological males who identify as female,” they declared. “Women and girls deserve access to private spaces when they visit their local gym or use the restroom.”
The bill also “threatens to halt the advances women’s sports have achieved” by allowing “those with physical advantages to compete against women and obtain scholarships and other awards at the expense of women,” they said.
In a separate statement, five chairmen of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference condemned the Equality Act, saying it would “impose sweeping new norms that negatively impact the unborn, health care, charitable services, schools, personal privacy, athletics, free speech, religious liberties, and parental rights.”
“The Act’s unsound definitions of ‘sex’ and ’gender identity’ would erase women’s distinct, hard-won recognition in federal laws,” the bishops said.
On Friday, Catholic League President Bill Donohue joined the bishops in denouncing the attempt to impose gender ideology on the nation in the name of “equality.”
“The Equality Act is, without a doubt, the most radical assault on religious liberty, the right to life, and privacy rights ever packaged into one bill,” Dr. Donohue declared.
What makes the Equality Act really treacherous is “its endorsement by a Catholic president,” Donohue noted, because, as the Bishops’ chairman has observed, “it creates confusion among the faithful about what the Church actually teaches on these questions.”