Equality Act: “Consequences for our Consideration”

By Sharon Mager

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 224-206 in favor of the “Equality Act,” H.R. 5. on Thursday, Feb. 25. According to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, this legislation… “ seeks to expand the definition of ‘sex’ to include ‘sexual orientation and ‘gender identity orientation (SOGI) and would revise every title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add these categories as new protected classes in the federal code.

In “Why should Christians oppose the Equality Act?” the ERLC staff writes, “The ERLC believes that this bill represents the most significant threat to religious liberty ever considered in the United States Congress.” The article goes on to state that the act “would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes … curtail religious freedom protections, hinder the work of healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals, undermine civil rights protections for women and girls, and ultimately steamroll the consciences of millions of Americans.”

Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, says, “The Equality Act is poorly named because, among other negative effects, it would punish faith-based charities for their core religious beliefs. Every human being ought to be treated with dignity, but government policy must continue to respect differences of belief. The Equality Act would have harmful consequences, and it should not be passed into law. Congress would make the situation worse in this country with this legislation, both in terms of religious freedom and in terms of finding ways for Americans who disagree to work together for the common good.”

Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) Executive Director Kevin Smith strongly agrees with Moore. “Here, among Maryland/Delaware Baptists, some of our congregations have Christian schools, and this legislation would certainly have an impact for them. Many of us have raised daughters who enjoy and participate in athletics and this would have implications for them, whether at the elementary school, middle school, high school, or collegiate level. Many of us have businesses that engage in creative arts, such as florists and bakers, and this would have implications for those businesses.

“Basically, across the board, the strong push to reject the two clear biblical categories of gender, male and female, would have consequences for our consideration. This particular legislation would undo parts of the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Religious Restoration Act.”

Smith urges Christians to take these actions: “Pray for lawmakers, that God (in common grace) would lead them to legislate in ways that would not assault the image of God in humanity and lead them to uphold generally-accepted biological scientific research” and “please contact your U.S. senators with a personal note, email, or phone call.” Contact information for the senators from Delaware and Maryland is included below.

More information on the Equality Act is available in a previous ERLC article, which the BCM/D reprinted in February.

Contacts for U.S. Senators 

Maryland Senators
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Sen. Chris Van Hollen
110 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Delaware Senators
Sen. Thomas R. Carper
513 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

Sen. Chris A. Coons
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510