On March 13, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced the “Equality Act,” H.R. 5, a bill “to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.” The bill was co-sponsored by 239 House members – including 2 Republican representatives.

H.R. 5 introduces the categories of “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That act outlawed discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” in public accommodations, including public facilities and public education.

While the Civil Rights Act already bans discrimination on the basis of sex, H.R. 5 also changes the meaning of “sex” from its basic biological meaning of male or female. The bill significantly broadens the term “sex” to include:

(A) a sex stereotype;

(B) pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition;

(C) sexual orientation or gender identity; and

(D) sex characteristics, including intersex traits.

Gender identity is defined in H.R. 5 as “the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.” While sexual orientation is defined as “homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.”

Including this broadened definition of “sex” and adding “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) to federal non-discrimination law would have serious harmful consequences for people of faith and families.

Religious Beliefs Become “Discrimination”

Christians believe what Genesis describes and Jesus taught: God created two types of humans – male and female. We believe that a sexual relationship should be reserved for a husband and wife. Because that sexual relationship includes the possibility of having children, we want children to have both a mother and a father. We understand that Christian teaching about marriage has profound spiritual significance, as the husband and wife relationship reflects the relationship between Christ and His Church.

The “Equality Act” takes these basic biblical teachings and labels them “discriminatory.” It puts the full force and influence of the federal government behind enforcing this law and opposing Christian beliefs. The law is a powerful teacher, and the “Equality Act” would teach that Christian thinking about male-female differences, marriage, parenting, family and sexuality are rooted in prejudice – rather than in years of wisdom, reason and biblical exegesis.

We’ve already seen the negative consequences of SOGI legislation at the state and local level – for adoption agencies, churches, wedding venues, florists, bakers and photographers. Federal SOGI legislation would have even more adverse consequences for people of faith, with the federal government calling our Christian views intolerant and bigoted.

Privacy and Safety Concerns

An immediate concern for all families is that H.R. 5 addresses public accommodations. It allows individuals to use restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms not on the basis of a person’s biological bodily reality – being male or female – but on the basis of their “gender identity.” “Gender identity” involves a person’s internal, subjective beliefs about who he or she is: male, female, some combination of the two, or neither.

The bill states this explicitly: ‘‘(with respect to gender identity) an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.’’ So a man who believes he is a woman – regardless of his physical appearance or bodily reality – could enter a women’s locker room, dressing room or restroom.

Again, we’re already seen the negative consequences of SOGI laws and regulations as businesses, cities and states allow the use of private, single-sex facilities based on a person’s internal “gender identity.”

While the bill has a good chance of passing the House, it should be defeated in the Senate – unless a number of Republicans move across the aisle to support it. We’ll keep you updated about this dangerous bill, including other concerns and other arguments against the legislation, in the coming weeks.