The Equality Act is the new hope for the LGBTQ+ community

Woman+advocating+for+LGBTQ%2B+rights.+The+Equality+Act+is+an+advancement+toward+further+equality+for+LGBTQ%2B+people.+LGBTQ%2B+people+have+been+subjected+to+discrimination+for+years+and+the+Equality+Act+would+be+a+huge+step+for+the+community.

Used with permission from _DSC0980 on Flickr

Woman advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. The Equality Act is an advancement toward further equality for LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ+ people have been subjected to discrimination for years and the Equality Act would be a huge step for the community.

Brooke Eldridge, Opinions and Arts and Entertainment Editor

This past February, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Equality Act. This bill further amends the Civil Rights Act by banning discrimination against people based on gender identity and sexual orientation. As one of Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities for his first 100 days in office, he’s so far keeping his promise.

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.”

— Joe Biden

The Equality Act is largely focused on the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (most knowably referred to as the LGBTQ+ community) people. For centuries, the LGBTQ+ community has faced widespread and persistent discrimination by Federal, State, and local actors and private sectors. The continued legalization of conversion therapy in some states is also a pointer to how necessary the Equality Act is to protect the wellbeing and identities of LGBTQ+ citizens. H.R.5–The Equality Act–states how LGBTQ+ people face difficulty in securing access to public accommodations including restaurants, healthcare facilities, and youth service providers like adoption and foster care providers.

LGBTQ+ people face many forms of discrimination and share vulnerabilities in the workplace and daily public interactions. The Civil Rights Act, while being the backbone of equality in America, did not explicitly address lesbian, gay and transgender people’s protections and were only placed in the umbrella of “sex” protections. Because of this and the long history of prevalent discrimination, the Equality Act only solidifies the protections of LGBTQ+ people by fully addressing them and their discriminatory experiences. 

While the majority of Democrats are in favor of the Equality Act, a large portion of Republicans are opposed to it because they believe the bill is an infringement on religious rights. Under the Equality Act, people couldn’t use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to stop the act’s provisions or to use it as a defense claim. And while it’s understandable to be concerned of religious freedoms, the Equality Act is necessary for the protection of LGBTQ+ citizens and they should not be subjected to discrimination because of one’s religion. Religion has been one of the biggest causes of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and in order to protect the rights and wellbeing of these citizens, religious beliefs cannot trump the LGBTQ+ community and their rights because it would be completely unethical for places to deny LGBTQ+ people from using services. LGBTQ+ people will never fully be equal to everyone else if continued religious stigma is allowed against them.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece belong solely to their respective author(s). They do not represent the opinions of South Forsyth High School or Forsyth County Schools.