By Emily Drooby
The ability to live out one’s faith is at risk if The Equality Act passes in the U.S. Senate.
That’s according to Ed Mechmann, the Archdiocese of New York’s Director of Safe Environment. The Equality Act is supposed to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, critics including U.S. bishops, argue it actually discriminates against Catholics.
“They’re not bad people, they have good motives,” said Ed. “They want to ban discrimination. That’s fine, but I don’t think they realize the implications of a bill like this on religious organizations and religious people.”
Ed says the impact would be great, especially since it eliminates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as its potential defense.
What that means, for example, is if a Catholic hospital did not approve of doing a gender reassignment surgery, faith wouldn’t be an excuse to say ‘no.’
“We would be forced to say things and do things that our faith really forbids us from doing,” Ed said.
He called the potential elimination “unprecedented in American history.”
The implications of this broad act could be far reaching. For example, it would likely force hospitals to perform abortions and have employees cover the operation.
When it comes to schools, it could force women to share spaces like dorms or locker rooms with men and could force schools to become co-ed.
It could possibly allow men into women’s prisons, which could be seen as a potential safety issue.
“They have full-bodied males who claim to civil rights [in order] to be housed with the women, putting them at risk,” explains Mary Hasson. She is the Kate O’ Beirne Fellow at The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
As a fellow on public policy, she’s an expert on issues affecting faith and women. She’s very concerned about this act.
“It tips the scales and says it’s sort of a “winner take all” that these sexual orientation and gender identify categories are always going to trump anyone’s religious beliefs,” Mary said.
The Equality Act has already passed in the House.
“It is just a hugely important bill to defeat in the Senate if it comes up to a vote,” Mary added.
Critics and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are trying to do just that, reaching out to lawmakers, educating them on the negative effect it could have on the faithful.
While there has been some talk of the Senate getting to this legislation during Pride Month – it has recently stalled. Catholics are already gearing up for legal battles in case the act does get a majority vote and pass.