The Equality Act has been introduced to amend the Civil Rights Act, introduced in 1964. Under the Civil Rights Act people are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex, however, the act does not include members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Equality Act will include protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It also covers a broader area of protection including public accommodations including online and transportation as well as public places.
The bill protects all forms of discrimination, including racial and religious discrimination as well as discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So why would those with religious affiliation be offended by this act? Well, it will also overturn the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, an act passed in 1993 that allowed businesses to discriminate against others due to their religious freedom.
With the passing of this act businesses and organizations will no longer be able to discriminate against others due to religious freedom. Religiously based homeless shelters will have to allow LGBTQ+ individuals or those with other religions to seek shelter, they will no longer be able to turn them away and allow them to continue suffering because they “don’t believe in their lifestyle.” Same with the well-known bakeries that have turned down business because making a cake for a same-sex marriage was against their beliefs.
Many religious organizations have been upset by this act and some have gone as far as creating petitions against it. While claiming discrimination due to their religion and their religious freedoms being ripped away, the things they list they are upset about have nothing to do about silencing their religion like they claim. For example, some of their concerns involve not being allowed to turn down same-sex parents interested in fostering or adopting children, having to allow LGBTQ+ members to join their church, not being able to discriminate against trans or non-binary individuals in schools, and many more.
Discrimination is not a religious freedom and not being allowed to allow your hate to affect others’ way of life is not imposing on anyone’s religious beliefs. Also, allowing all religions to be taught equally in schools is opening up the floor for more religious freedoms, not taking away religious freedom. Christianity and Catholicism are not the only religions in the world and should not be the only ones taught in schools. They also should not be forced down everyone’s throats and used to refuse people the chance at equal rights. As we have learned more about sex and gender, we have learned that they are two distinctly different things and should both be protected under the law. Sex is already protected, and gender and sexual orientation should be as well. Discrimination is not a religious freedom.