What Is Equality
Posted on September 14, 2019 by Diana Roberts
Equality is like beauty. While it is beautiful, it is often defined only by the individual’s feeling. But governmental laws cannot go by feeling. The laws, all of them, must set the boundaries so that all citizens are protected and each person, each group, are mandated to be equal with the next. Even though our Constitution clearly does that, courts of the nation have been divided on just how far equality should go. As usual, the divide is caused by Christian beliefs and what judge or politician held the string of power in an instant case.
Along comes a Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives last May and says we have to do something about rising prejudice and inequality in our nation. They overwhelmingly pass H. R. 5, The Equality Act. This Bill would expand national civil rights laws by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that are protected from discrimination nationally.
All citizens should be equal under the law, no matter their age, ethnicity, sexual preference, education or anything else. The only thing that should be inherently unequal and exempt from law is a person’s I.Q. or vocational or professional ability. Whether a person is of a certain race, ethnicity, age, sexual preference, political or religious belief, rich or poor should never, within itself, be a lawful reason for discrimination in America. All persons in a free society should feel the sense of being equal to the next person. Even though the Founding Fathers didn’t practice that, it is clear that the influence on them of the then-new thought enlightenment was what they were reaching for.
Life is never equal on the basis of what happens to each of us on our life path, but the laws of government in a democracy must be applied equally. Therefore, there should be no targeting of any one person or group with prejudice or inequality either by statute or in civil life in the name of religion. When that occurs in legislation or our courts cannot make up their minds because of splitting hairs or the minutia of legal theory, then our democratic representatives should have no choice but to step in and pass clarifying legislation. That is what the House of Representatives did in May (2019).
The Equality Act expands the existing types of public accommodations covered by federal nondescription laws to include retail stores, banks, transportation services, and health care services. It also protects young people under the care of child welfare services by preventing state-funded religious foster care and adoption agencies from discriminating. There are currently ten states with laws allowing these agencies to refuse to place children in LGBTQ homes and still collect government funding. The religious right, including the Catholic Church, are working to pass this kind of government-funded discrimination legislation in the rest of the states.
For those of us who support the First Amendment right of separation of church and state, the Equality Act was a huge win. Why? Because these state discrimination statutes are undermining the fundamental right to be free and equal. They are rooted in religious biases, not in democratic principle.
Before H.B. 5 was voted on last May, a blogger for the Christian supremacist American Family Association wrote, “There will be no equality in this bill for anyone who believes that homosexuality is non-normative sexual behavior and something that should not be promoted, subsidized, and celebrated, especially in our schools…. That’s why I call this bill ‘The Homosexuality Supremacy Act,’ since it elevates homosexuality and gender confusion above anything everything else in the moral universe. Everyone will be required to bow the knee before Baal of Sodom or face punishment.”
The Alliance for Freedom warned that if the bill passes, “the faithful would be virtually powerless in the face of a bill designed to punish them [Christians] for living out their beliefs.”
The cloud or disconnect in this thinking is that it does not recognize that democratic government is non-religious, while at the same time it protects religious practice and beliefs. This thinking favors inequality based on religious judgment in the American community. The place for judgment is in the situs of the religion, not in the laws of society where it makes people less equal than their neighbor. One must be free to worship by their own conscience, but that is their own, while the public arena is not.
If the Equality Act is to become law, it must be brought before the Republican-controlled Senate, and that’s not going to happen as long as the Republicans are in control. This is not your “Grand Old Party” of yester-year, fiscal discipline, and capital freedom priorities. It should now be called “The Republican Christian Party” for a more apt title. Religious dominance and laws based thereon is not equality. It’s called a theocracy.