Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the Equality Act on Thursday. Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) voted with Democrats on the vote to ensure “sexual orientation and gender identity are included among protected classes — without protection for religious objections.”
If the bill becomes law, it would likely upend the national culture as Americans have known it, affecting women’s and girls’ sports, privacy in public facilities, and faith-based institutions.
Katko, Reed, and Fitzpatrick disagreed with their Republican opponents that say the legislation would force women and girls to share private spaces with men. Republicans also say the bill could facilitate men participating in women’s sports if they identify as female.
If the Equality Act passes in the Senate as well, President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law.
The legislation would end the federal recognition of male-female biological sex in favor of “gender identity” by rewriting civil rights law to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected classes.
Transgender athletes in recent years have fought against legislation aimed at limiting their participation due to their gender identity. Many argue such policies violate Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in education credited with leveling the playing field for women in sports.
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, who is the chair of the most conservative caucus in the House, railed against the legislation, saying it would be a “devastating attack on humanity.”
“While it attacks religious freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association, all important rights recognized in the first amendment, it doesn’t stop there, it also denies the biological facts that men and women are the two genders,” he said Thursday. “The bill recklessly requires girl’s and women’s restrooms, lockers, gyms, or any place a female might seek privacy, to surrender that privacy to biological males. Women’s sports are already being infiltrated.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Equality Act is just a part of an “onslaught against freedom” by the Biden administration.
“I mean if you look at Biden’s appointments to Cabinet members, suing nuns and others, this is really seems like an onslaught against freedom of religion, girls’ sports as well, and others,” he said during his weekly press conference. “If you’re a member of Congress, interesting to me how far they have gone and how much further they want to go.”