Barham: Equality act would strip freedoms

Barham: The redefining of progress


Earlier this month, we as a nation celebrated our 243rd birthday, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps you celebrated with fireworks or a day out with your family. As many of you did, I sang with others our national anthem and the words about our flag flying “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

I am so thankful to be an American, to have been born in the U.S.A. (Texas even). That is not something to be taken for granted; we are free to make many choices — where to live, whether to worship our Creator and how, our career path and employment — there are more than I can enumerate.

However, I fear our freedoms are tenuous and in danger of eroding. As government becomes more invasive, the more our freedom is diminished. We are familiar with the rights stated in the First Amendment to the Constitution — that Congress will not establish religion, nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, nor abridge freedom of speech or the press. That amendment also assures the rights to peacefully assemble and to petition the government concerning grievances.

Throughout history there has unfortunately been discrimination; e.g., when women couldn’t vote, persons of one skin color or ethnicity were not given the same rights as others in employment, housing, even where to eat, etc. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 addressed these issues by outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin and applies to voter registration, as well as racial segregation in schools, employment and public accommodations.

In spite of this law, Democrats have introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate a bill called the Equality Act of 2019. It was introduced March 13 and passed by the House on May 17 of this year. It is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate.

This bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.

There are serious problems with this bill: it nullifies the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, and it would give males who identify as females the right to women’s spaces. An example of this is in Anchorage, Alaska, where a faith-based shelter for women who have been abused or sexually assaulted is fighting to prevent biological males from sleeping there. It will also allow biological males to compete in women’s athletics. The unfairness and inequality of this was demonstrated in a Connecticut state high school track meet in which biological males who were taking female hormones won first and second place, with one setting a state record. Another egregious example of a loss of freedom due to governmental interference and “political correctness” occurred when an Ohio judge terminated the parental rights of a couple because they refused to support their daughter’s transgender hormone treatments.

These are just a few reasons why I consider this bill disastrous. Currently, the Senate and President Trump are all that stand between the bill and its becoming a law of the land. As we head toward the election year of 2020, we need to seriously consider the ramifications of this bill if passed into law. It would undoubtedly strip freedoms from individuals and organizations.

— Mary K. Barham, a Longview resident, is an occasional contributor to the Saturday Forum.

Today's Bible verse

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

— Psalm 42:11

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