• Daniel Ethan Finneran

The "Equality Act" Passes Congress

The delightfully-named “Equality Act”, a harmlessly-sounding bill to which, having not read it, none possessed of a good heart and warm spirit would rightly object, passed by the slimmest of margins in the House of Representatives. It did so by a vote of 211-195. Now, against all odds, it marches onward, posthaste, to the floor of the Senate, that august theater in which it’ll be further scrutinized and debated, rejected or embraced.

What, you might ask, are the contents of a bill with so unexceptionable a name? In its own words, its noble intention is to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation” in the realm of public life. Its declared purpose is to incorporate under the protection of the anti-discrimination laws of Civil Rights Act of 1964 such categories as “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”, two terms by which our once dry, quotidian discourse has become overwhelmed and saturated.

Sensing the inadequacy of our understanding of the word “discrimination”, the bill’s authors go to great lengths to explain to us that “Discrimination can occur on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes”. Each, they proclaim, is an example of sex discrimination from which every American deserves protection, to which this bill will valiantly respond, as we enter the second decade of a second millennium from which all things not progressive must be purged.

The authors then adopt a slightly more critical view as they turn to that last, somewhat nebulous phrase, “sex-based stereotypes”. Discrimination, they say, “against a married same-sex couple could be based on the sex stereotype that marriage should only be between heterosexual couples”. I think their use of the word “stereotype” is perhaps mischievously employed. When something is said to be “stereotypical”, in most cases, it’s meant to suggest its superficiality and crudeness, not its veracity and essence. A stereotype is seldom thought of as a compliment; more often, it’s a caricature. Indeed, that which is merely stereotypical fails to reach the desired depth to which higher thinker promoting it always seems prepared to descend.

That a conjugal union between man and wife has become, suddenly, stereotypical and, as such, apt to be ridiculed and dismissed, would come as a surprise to anyone reared in a religious faith, or born before the year, say, 2000. Those holding a more traditional view of marriage might view it as rather teleological than stereotypical, as a quite useful and necessary means to ensure the propagation of our species and, by some pious extension, to promote the greater glory of God. It would be important to note, without casting a moral judgement, that “married same-sex couples”, despite their best efforts, will forever lack that teleological sine qua non (that is, the fertile harmony of contrasting generative organs by which, having met and exchanged their seminal features, another human is naturally conceived).

The authors proceed to enumerate the difficulties faced by LGBTQ community in accessing public accommodations. Important to note, that in using that cherished initialism, those five hallowed letters by which endless rainbow flags have been emblazoned in recent years, a persistent category error is committed: L, G, B, and Q are all, so far as I’m aware, sexual orientations. T, the uneasy outlier of this curious, amorous bunch, is but a gender identity. Especially as it pertains to federal legislation, by which it’s desired that everyone in this country will be effected, I fear this isn’t a trivial distinction without a difference unworthy of our note. It might be an issue over which we might, if only for a contemplative hour, linger.

The following part of the text is, at least in the minds of those inhabiting conservative circles, the cause célèbre. The authors of the bill assert that, “Discrimination by state and local governments on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States”.

At the utterance of the words, “public accommodations”, one’s mind immediately leaps to the issue of bathrooms. With the peremptory language of this bill, it seems as though we’re to take it that this particular controversy has been, at long last, settled.

Has it, though?

Is a biological male, one tickled by the ephemeral notion of his inner femininity, to be granted access to a women’s restroom on the strength of his whim and preference alone? What if, one day, he exuberantly proclaims the newfound identity of which he’s just now become conscious, only to rescind his dizzying announcement on the following day? Will his strange, new admittance to the women’s bathroom be revoked, or will the precious rights according to his declared, though in no way obvious gynecoid nature obtain?

We then turn to “programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance”. This is a broad category, indeed, as there are few such programs and activities untouched by the munificence of the government’s coin. If we were to condense this ungainly and legal sentence, it would read more succinctly to say that girls’ and women’s sports, so long as they’re supported by public funds, must permit biological males to compete as equals on their fields.

Thus, as conservatives caution, goes the very essence of women’s sports. No longer can they call themselves by that name. Girls’ athletic achievements, along with the noble feminism by whose efforts they arrived, finally dissolve in the acidic solvent of transgender rights. At the risk of wandering down a biological excursus, and provoking the wrath of a group with whom I seek no feud, there are certain unsubtle advantageous, a list, in fact, of quite distinct physiological and hormonal features, of which the man—by the unsolicited advantage and good fortune of his birth—will be availed.

This bill would make his already impressive athletic dominance complete and set biological females, yet again, back further in the race.

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