The So-Called Equality Act: Making Some Americans More Equal than Others
Allan Josephson, M.D., is one of the nation’s top child and adolescent psychiatrists. So why was he just fired by the University of Louisville?
It started when Dr. Josephson spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he expressed his concern as a medical professional over what is becoming common treatment for children with gender dysphoria -- puberty blockers, hormones, multiple surgeries. He disputed the notion that gender identity “should trump chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics," calling it “counter to medical science."
In today’s political climate, however, it is considered unacceptable to offer anything other than complete affirmation of a child’s claimed transgender identity. To ideologues, it does not matter that for nearly fifteen years Dr. Josephson headed up the University of Louisville’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology Division, leading it to national prominence. It does not matter that he provided such outstanding leadership that he was awarded perfect marks in his 2014, 2015, and 2016 annual reviews.
All that matters is that he committed a sin against the dictates of political correctness. The university first demoted Dr. Josephson and then, a few months later, terminated him.
Dr. Josephson is suing the university for violating his constitutional right to freedom of speech. But if the deceptively named Equality Act passes, this man of science won’t stand a chance. And neither will anyone else who does not pledge allegiance to the state-sanctioned sexual ideology.
Introduced by Nancy Pelosi, the Equality Act inserts “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) into the Civil Rights Act, elevating them to the status of protected categories, like race and religion. If the act passes, any person or institution that does not bow before a radical sexual ideology will be silenced.
We can predict the Equality Act’s likely impact based on what is happening in states, cities, and local jurisdictions that already have SOGI laws, Here are a few of the ways they have been used to silence dissent from a state-imposed sexual orthodoxy:
- Individuals are losing their jobs, from medical professionals like Dr. Josephson to schoolteachers to tech innovator Brendan Eich, the founder of Mozilla, who was kicked out of his own company.
- Therapy for minors is being outlawed if it does not affirm the SOGI agenda. Parents tell anguished stories of searching high and low for a therapist who will not instantly channel their child into a homosexual or transgender identity.
- Students are being kicked out of graduate schools for not embracing the state orthodoxy on sexuality.
- Schools collude with trans activists by refusing to tell parents which gender identity their children claim at school. Teachers are using the students’ opposite-sex names and connecting them with therapists who help them transition -- without informing their parents.
- Women’s sports are increasingly dominated by male-bodied competitors who identify as girls or women.
- Adoption and foster care agencies are being shut down if they affirm that children fare best in families with a mother and a father, as has happened in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.
- Women’s spaces are being invaded by men who identify as women. For example, the Downtown Hope Center, a shelter for homeless, abused, and trafficked women in Anchorage, Alaska, is being sued for not accepting a biological male.
- Small business owners whose craft involves expression are being sued for declining to express views on sexuality that they disagree with. The Colorado baker Jack Phillips was taken to court twice, when activists asked him to bake a cake with a pro-homosexual message and later with a pro-trans message.
The Equality Act would universalize SOGI laws, imposing a single coercive set of rules that constrains all schools, all therapists, all medical professionals, all sports leagues, all charities, all business owners. All dissent would be silenced.
More ominously, even silence will not be not tolerated. Failure to use a person’s preferred pronoun will be interpreted as failure to adequately support the SOGI agenda. Already laws are being passed that require a positive affirmation: In 2016 the New York City Human Rights Commission released a list of thirty-one terms of gender expression (androgynous, genderqueer, nonbinary, pangender, bi-gendered, gender fluid, third sex, two spirit, and so on), which you must use with your employees, tenants, customers, or clients -- or face exorbitant fines of up to $250,000.
In essence, the Equality Act would punish anyone who does not affirm the state’s preferred viewpoint of marriage and biological sex.
Moreover, the Equality Act explicitly rejects (SEC. 1107) the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which would have permitted religious exemptions for Christian churches, schools, ministries, and charities. No diversity will be allowed.
Every totalitarian system has used the tactic of coercing people to affirm the regime’s agenda, even when they disagree. Forcing people to mouth politically correct dogmas that they know are false is designed to break their spirit and their resistance. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said the worst aspect of Communist totalitarianism was not the economic poverty or the lack of political rights; it was being forced to repeat the regime’s lies: “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie."
Just a few years ago, few imagined that the greatest threat to liberty would come via the sexual revolution. Its promise of liberation for some has turned into repression for everyone else. Homosexual and transgender people are not a “vulnerable and marginalized population,” as their propaganda puts it; they are now the favored few.
The Equality Act will write into law the Orwellian notion that some Americans are more equal than others.
Nancy Pearcey is a professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University. Her most recent book is Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality.