The U.S. House of Representatives passed The Equality Act on May 17, and it has now been referred to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary. The measure bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and in its current form, does not include any meaningful religious freedom protections.
If the measure became law, many religious schools and charities would have to change their faith-based policies and practices, or face sanctions that could force them to close their doors.
Before the House voted on the legislation, NAE President Leith Anderson joined a letter to members of Congress expressing concern over the consequences to religious freedom that will occur if The Equality Act as currently drafted becomes law. Such consequences include:
- Houses of worship and other religious spaces will be turned into places of “public accommodation”;
- Federal funds will be denied to thousands of houses of worship, schools and charities that currently receive them;
- Religious adoption and foster care providers would be devastated, harming innocent children and families;
- Many privately funded shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence would be rendered illegal, ripping a hole in the social safety net;
- Core rights would be stripped from religious colleges and universities;
- Houses of worship, religious charities, and religious individuals will lose the protection of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; and
- Religious individuals would be forced to take part in weddings and funerals that violate their religious beliefs.