Hip, hip, hooray! The U.S. House passed The Equality Act! We’re all equal now! There’s no more hate, no more homophobia, no more Marjorie Taylor Greene!
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But the Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expands the scope of those protections. It’s a major leap forward for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S., rights that were chipped away and stomped on by the Trump Administration.
After the Democrats in the House introduced the bill, President Biden said in a statement, “I urge Congress to swiftly pass this historic legislation. Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”
In other words: elections matter. Electing people who aren’t hateful ghouls really makes a difference in the lives of oppressed people.
Only three Republican House members voted yes on the Equality Act. Meanwhile, all of the Democrats voted in favor.
Needless to say, right-wing conservatives are PISSED. Especially since the Equality Act trumps 1993’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects “religious liberty.” Being able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people without any consequences whatsoever is a bedrock principle of religion, after all. Under the Equality Act, “Jesus told me to” isn’t a free pass to discriminate.
Let’s be clear: if treating LGBTQ+ people like human beings offends your religious sensibilities, then maybe your religious sensibilities are trash.
Let’s also be clear that the “religion” in question here is Christianity, since right-wing Christians who run the Republican Party don’t care about other religions.
Case in point, the Family Research Council.
“Every Christian needs to understand and pray for the defeat of this anti-Christian legislation,” they urged.
“Father, our Supreme Court erred in its ruling in Bostock v. Clayton,” FRC prayed, referring to the 2020 Supreme Court case that ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ+ employees against discrimination. “Some call it the Roe v. Wade of sexual anarchy prevailing over religious liberty.”
I have literally never heard it called this. But I also do not spend much time with religious extremists who have been radicalized.
“Lord, men and women who reject your law are seeking to impose their sexual lawlessness upon those who are seeking to obey your laws,” FRC’s prayer continues. “They seek morally lawless legal power to punish those who can never affirm their sinful choices and maintain their fidelity to your word.”
In other words, Lord, don’t make me be nice to a gay. Jesus help me if I have to call a transgender or non-binary person by their preferred pronouns. Heaven forfend I have to make a cake for a lesbian wedding.
“Intervene we pray, not only to prevent this lawless HR 5 bill to pass,” their sad prayer continues, “but to set a marker that elected representatives of the American people will not yet again declare righteous what you declare unrighteous, nor provide sexual activists the tools with which to persecute religious believers.”
Set a marker, huh? Like in dominoes? And there’s that persecution complex again. Christians are not discriminated against in this country. Case in point: Christmas. Other cases in point: the fact that we have a major religious party that thinks that Christianity gives them the right to tell women what to do with their bodies when it comes to pregnancy, the existence and profitability of megachurches, tax-exempt status for churches, Kanye West.
It’s no wonder why the Republican Party spends so much of its time trying to crush voting rights. LGBTQ+ equality is actually quite popular. The majority of this country opposes discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. So what Republicans are left with is prayer, which doesn’t influence elections, and voter suppression, which is their tool to remain in power even as they and their ideas become less popular.
The Equality Act is not law yet, of course. Whether the Equality Act will pass in the U.S. Senate remains to be seen. Even Republicans considered to have a shred of moral decency, like Mitt Romney, are against it. My advice to Democrats: get rid of the goddamn filibuster that requires you to get the support of Trump-worshipping, terrorist-enabling fascists of the Republican Party and pass the Equality Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act RIGHT NOW.
Or we can blink our eyes and see Mitch McConnell become Senate Majority leader again and cry about how we had a shot to make major change and we fucking blew it and now the U.S. House is filled primarily with people whose campaign slogans were, “I did crime on the Capitol for Trump!” Our choice!
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.