Equality Act Hit By Avalanche Of Brutally Stupid GOP Amendment Proposals
I was *this* close to titling this post "You Seriously Will Not Freakin' Believe The Stupid Shit Republicans Want To Add To The Equality Act" before realizing that I should not do that, on account of it being a very clickbait-sounding headline and we are above that here, but seriously... you will not freakin' believe this shit.
At least I didn't, and it's awfully hard to surprise me these days. Seriously, if I were on Family Feud, with an audience made up entirely of Congressional Republicans and the topic was "Our Terrible Ideas For Amendments To The Equality Act," I would fail miserably. I would go home with nothing.
I don't know, I guess I still have too much faith in people.
The Equality Act is supposed to be an amendment to the Civil Rights Act meant to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity specifically. Theoretically, it should be as simple as that. But of course, not only do Republicans want to add a bunch of things in there meant to ensure that bigots can still discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, but they also want to throw in a bunch of shit in there about abortion and about prohibiting discrimination against people for their "political orientation." Because god forbid anyone judge anyone based on... the content of their character.
Several of these extra terrible proposed amendments came from Representative John Curtis of Utah:
States that places of public accommodation shall not apply to houses of worship or religious educational institutions.
Permits safeguards for religious educational institutions to enforce religious standards in admissions criteria.
Permits safeguards for religious educational institutions to limit the occupancy of housing that it owns to persons of the same religion or to those who adhere to its religious beliefs.
Jeez, it's almost like they never got over the whole Bob Jones University thing, huh! You know, the whole thing where Republicans were very sad about BJU losing their tax exempt status just because they wanted to discriminate against black people and also tell their students who they were and were not allowed to fuck, because they felt like Jesus was exactly like the mom in that one Janis Ian song and just did not approve of interracial relationships? They want it in writing this time that religious educational institutions can do all the discriminating they want!
In case you were wondering to yourself "Oh hey, is John Curtis of Utah a member of the Mormon church? The same church that banned black people until the 1970s because they thought they were cursed by ham or something?," as I was, he is indeed a member of that very church.
Naturally, they had to throw in a bunch of anti-abortion stuff, because sure, why not!
Clarifies that the term "shall not receive less favorable treatment" with respect to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall not be construed as creating a right to demand that any individual or entity be forced to perform, refer, pay for, or otherwise participate in an abortion. -- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-SC)
States that nothing in this Act or any amendment made by this Act may be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the provision or funding thereof. -- Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)
Yeah, you know what does, Debbie? Roe v. Wade, for now at least. Until that gets overturned, which won't be until 2020 at least, there is a right to abortion, so sit the hell down.
Debbie actually had a lot of ideas about this bill, including a proposal to change the name of it from the equality act to the very TERF-y "Forfeiting Women's Rights Act" —an interesting choice given the fact that she clearly has no problem forfeiting our reproductive rights.
She's included some real normal amendments such as:
Ensures parents' custody of their child is not threatened by them simply questioning their child's gender identity decisions and changes.
"Simply questioning." How cute! What a sweet way of putting things. Because surely children are being torn from the arms of loving parents as said parents desperately scream "I was just asking questions!!!!" into the night. That is definitely a real thing.
She also added:
Clarifies that nothing in this bill can require a place of public accommodation to be required to convert any space separated on the basis of sex to a separation on the basis of gender identity.
Again, she would like to continue discriminating against trans people please. For women's rights. Obviously.
Republican Doug Lansborne of Colorado, for one, would like to add a bunch of "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" related exceptions to this non-discrimination policy. For Jesus.
So if you're an army chaplain, you can still discriminate against gay and trans people.
Ensures that anyone working in the chaplaincy of any service branch of the United States military is fully protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Or if you are a religious "corporation."
Ensures that any religious organization – whether it is a corporation, association, or society – is fully protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
And now we get to the REAL stupid. The part where Paul Gosar decided to take this Act meant to protect trans people and turn it into an act to protect... Republicans.
Adds political affiliation to the list of prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation. -- Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
Yeah, that's not how stuff works. The Civil Rights Act protects people based on immutable characteristics and religious beliefs. Being a Republican isn't any more of a "protected category" than being a "musical theater nerd" or a "Trekkie" or a "Disney person" or a "Parrothead" or a "pathological liar" is. We are free to "discriminate" against people based on their character, personal preferences and behavior.
But Paulie G was not allowed to let that stop him.
Ensures no program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance can discriminate based on political affiliation.
Ensures that any digital platform, website, or application with more than 250,000,000 unique viewers per month may not discriminate against a person, including based on political affiliation.
This has absolutely nothing to do with the rights of gay and trans people to not be discriminated against. Nothing! It's also stupid because yes, you can get kicked out of places for being an asshole. Should Rep. Gosar like to test that theory, I suggest he go down to his local pub, get extremely wasted and start walking around insulting and harassing people and screaming racial slurs. Heck, he can do that without getting sloshed, and he will have the same result. He can try it at Marshalls or Wegmans or the local pet food supply store and get the same thing. Heck, he can even try it in the literal public square and odds are, he will be asked to move along, or even arrested for disturbing the peace.
Here's my idea though. Here's what I think we should do. I say we all start a new religion, the primary tenet of which is that we get to "discriminate" against assholes and bigots. And social media companies can decide that they, too, are religious corporations and that this is now their religion. We can throw anything else we want in there too, and we don't even literally have to believe it ourselves to gain these protections, thanks to a 1944 Supreme Court decision involving my second favorite cult, the I AM Activity. I will be the leader and I will dress exactly like Ruth Norman the leader of my first favorite cult, the Unarius Academy of Science.
We can play this game all day. Either that or, you know, House Republicans could just stop being dicks and let gay and trans people have some damn civil rights without being dumb babies about it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse