“The family has always been the cornerstone of American society,” declared President Ronald Reagan, “the heart of our free democracy” and “the mainstay of our national life… Our families nurture, preserve and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms.” It was so from the beginning of the Republic—“The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families,” said John Adams—and it remains so today. Which is why the so-called Equality Act may well be the most dangerous piece of legislation ever to be debated in Congress.
First introduced on March 13, 2019 by gay representative David Cicilline from Rhode Island, it passed the House the following May 17 but was never considered in the Senate. Meanwhile, the White House left no doubt as to where the president stood: “The Trump Administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
The next year candidate Joe Biden vowed that if he were elected, he would pass the Equality Act within 100 days of taking office. So it came as no surprise that on the day after Cicilline reintroduced the bill on February 18, 2021, President Biden issued a formal statement applauding the sponsors and urging legislators “to swiftly pass this historic legislation”—which, he insisted, would confer “dignity and respect” as “a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”
Such rhetoric is a distortion of the magnitude mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he spoke of those who “call evil good, and good evil.” In fact, as IOF and its partner National Organization for Marriage have repeatedly warned, if the bill’s name reflected its reality, it would have to be called the Inequality Act. As described by Family Research Council, “The Equality Act would mandate government-imposed inequality and unfairness by requiring acceptance of a particular ideology about sexual ethics, while leaving no room for differing opinions and legitimate public debate. Simply put, the Equality Act mandates an anti-life, anti-family, and anti-faith agenda throughout federal law, and would be a disaster for all Americans.”
Our colleague Ryan Anderson has summarized some of the disastrous consequences if America is subjected to the Equality Act:
Don’t let the name fool you…. Rather than finding common-sense, narrowly tailored ways to shield LGBT-identifying Americans from truly unjust discrimination, the bill would act as a sword—to persecute those who don’t embrace newfangled gender ideologies…. The Equality Act would sacrifice the hard-won rights of women, while privileging men who identify as women. If it becomes law, such men would have a right to spend the night in battered-women’s shelters, disrobe in women’s locker rooms and compete on women’s sports teams—even at K-12 schools…. Under the Equality Act, religious schools, adoption agencies and other charities would face federal sanction for upholding the teachings of mainstream biology and the Bible, modern genetics and Genesis, when it comes to sex and marriage…. Outrageously, the Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act… Medical doctors, secular and religious, whose expert judgment is that sex-reassignment procedures are misguided would now run afoul of our civil-rights laws…. [And] the act treats any refusal to offer abortion as ‘pregnancy’ discrimination. Decades of conscience protections against abortion extremism at the federal, state and local levels would be undermined. These threats to our society are just a few reasons why the Orwellian Equality Act should be rejected.
How could the government get it so wrong? It is hardly the first time such a question has been asked. Acclaimed historian Barbara Tuchman observed,
A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity…. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function? Why, to begin at the beginning, did the Trojan rulers drag that suspicious-looking wooden horse inside their walls despite every reason to suspect a Greek trick?
In the case of the Equality Act, the carefully crafted rhetoric has blinded not only government leaders but also much of corporate America. The Business Coalition for the Equality Act, led by the Human Rights Campaign, constitutes a veritable “Who’s who” of companies, including not only such tech titans as Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Intel, but also firms as diverse as Nike, Xerox, Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Deloitte, General Mills, Sony, Nestle, Boston Celtics, Bloomberg, American Express, Bank of America, Chevron, MasterCard, Tesla, Cisco, Ebay, Denny’s, Eli Lilly, Domino’s, Expedia, GoDaddy, Home Depot, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Netflix, Kellogg, Marriott, PetSmart, Alcoa, Starbucks, Target, Citigroup, Twitter, Dell, Airbnb, Toyota, and Disney, to name but a few of the total 420 companies whose combined revenue is some $6.8 trillion and whose employees number over 14.6 million.
It is a sobering testament to the seemingly irresistible allure of political correctness which American companies follow like sheep as they vie in their displays of enthusiasm. Dow Chemical says it “applauds the introduction of the Equality Act.” Facebook and Google support “protections… as outlined in the Equality Act.” Levi Strauss “is proud to support the Equality Act.” Nike “supports the Equality Act” as “another important step in the fight for equality.” And on and on it goes.
With the vast resources of corporate America marshalled in support this disastrous legislation, America urgently needs the best efforts and courageous voices of all who care about preserving the family—“the cornerstone of American society” and “the heart of our free democracy.” We can be silent no longer.