Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) noted Thursday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity, specifically disallows religious exemptions.
Jordan was responding to a speech by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY), who accused Republicans of using freedom of religion as an excuse “to hate on gay people,” and claimed that religious freedom would still be protected under the Equality Act.
But Jordan pointed to the text of the bill itself, which states: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.” The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enacted to protect the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion except for “compelling government interest.”
Religion has been at the heart of debates about same-sex marriage, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Democrats tried to short-circuit that debate in the Equality Act, which implies that religion cannot be cited as a basis for “discrimination.”
Following Jordan, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) argued that language in the text of the bill also attempts to create a statutory right to abortion by prohibiting discrimination regarding “a related medical condition” connected to pregnancy.
The Equality Act passed the House on a largely party-line vote, 224-206, with only three Republicans joining Democrats in favor.
The Senate is considered unlikely to pass the Equality Act, for the reasons of religious liberty Jordan mentioned.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.