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The Equality Act

On May 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by vote of 236 to 173, a bill titled the Equality Act – one of the worst bills (in my humble opinion) ever to pass either house of Congress.  All the NO votes came from Republicans.  The YES votes came from 228 Democrats, plus five Republicans.

The Equality Act, if it becomes law, will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  That famous law, promoted by President Lyndon Johnson and endorsed by Martin Luther King Jr., was mainly aimed at preventing discrimination based on race.  Incidentally, however, it aimed at preventing discrimination based on sex.  (In those far-off days, you may remember, people spoke of something called sex, not something called gender.)

In May of 2016, the Obama administration advised all educational agencies receiving federal funds that the 1964 ban on sex discrimination should be construed to ban discrimination based on gender identity.  According to that construal, LBJ’s 1964 law requires that boys/men who think they are girls/women must be allowed to use facilities hitherto reserved for females and vice versa.

This was, of course, a preposterous interpretation – for did any member of Congress who voted for the 1964 Act, or did LBJ himself when he signed the Act into law, or did Martin Luther King when he encouraged passage of that law, imagine that the act mandated transgender access to restrooms and locker rooms?  This interpretation has subsequently been reversed by the Trump administration.

If the Equality Act becomes law, however, (which it won’t this time around since it will almost certainly not pass the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate), the right to go into the restroom, locker room, etc. that is consistent with one’s “gender identity” will be legally secure.

What particularly irks me is that the principal sponsor of the Equality Act is Rep. David Cicilline, my U.S. Congressman.  He holds a seat that I once ran for and lost (1992).  Later, Patrick Kennedy (Teddy’s son) held that seat.  After Patrick came Cicilline, an openly gay man who, prior to being elected to Congress, was mayor of Providence.  Despite his Italian name, he is not Catholic; he is Jewish, born of a Jewish mother.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the Equality Act, because the strong protections it would give to the rights (or should I say the “rights”?) of LGBTQ persons would pose a threat to freedom of religion and conscience.

Madame Speaker

The parts of the Equality Act that I am especially concerned about are those having to do with the rights of transgender persons, and I am concerned for four reasons.

1. If the Act becomes law, it will pretty much destroy sports for girls and women. Males who are stronger or taller or faster or heavier will, after declaring themselves to be female, win all the big prizes. Women will have to go back to pie-making contests.

2. For another, trans girls (that is, boys who imagine themselves to be girls) will be able to use locker-room and showers that had hitherto been reserved for girls. In other words, real girls will be subject to great embarrassment (and who knows what else?) in order to accommodate the irrational delusions, or perhaps pranks, of a small number of boys. Adult women using public restrooms will rarely be able to feel perfectly safe – unless of course they happen to carry a gun with them (a gun which the same people who voted for the Equality Act would like to ban them from acquiring).

3. More important, adolescence, which even in the best of times is a period of psychological and emotional tumult for kids, will now be a period of even greater turbulence. How many of you reading this essay would wish to return to the psychological stresses and strains, many of them related to a developing sexuality, that you experienced when you were 12 or 13 or 14 or 15 years old?

Well, kids who are pre-teens today will in a few years have to worry, not just about the perennial things, but about gender identity.  They will lie awake at night wondering, “Am I a boy or a girl?”  In the old days you could answer this question by glancing at what you had between your legs.  That was easy; it made today’s question a non-question.  Now kids will feel enormous pressure to ask themselves, “What is my true gender identity, hidden deep within my soul?”

How cruel of the Left (an anti-Christianity Left) to inflict this notable increment of mental pain on growing kids who, in any case, will experience a significant amount of mental pain.  Cruelest of all are those parents – those monsters of iniquity I should say – who for the sake of being fashionably avant-garde encourage their 6- and 7- and 8-year-olds to claim a gender identity in conflict with their biological sex.

4. Finally, and worst of all, is the “philosophy” that underlies all this, a philosophy that says that nothing is what it is; rather, is what we say it is. Everything is a “construct” – constructed either by society at large or by a societal subgroup or by the sovereign individual. And so we can say that a fetus is not a human being; and kill it.  And we can say that Jews are subhuman; and kill them.  And we can say that Christianity is a false and dangerous religion; and ban it.

I don’t expect that most of us will ever say that 2 plus 2 equals 5.  But I do expect that our government will soon protect the “right” of public school teachers to say that Abraham Lincoln was gay, that George Washington was a woman, and that Jesus Christ did not exist.  After all, what is freedom if we are not free to “construct” our thought-world as we please? And what good is freedom if the weirdest members of society are not free to inflict their delusions on others?



David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America and, most recently, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist.