An opinion piece that recently appeared in the Inquirer correctly stated “it’s the job of Congress to pass legislation that protects all of us.” As a gay man who has worked on the issue of non-discrimination in multiple states, I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the so-called Equality Act — which that piece was supporting — fails to protect many Americans, and carries an enormous moral risk for LGBT Americans like myself: that we become the bullies we decried all along.
A significant majority of Americans, myself included, support enhanced protections for my community, including the right to work and live without fear of being “outed” and fired, which is a reality many of us face in more culturally conservative areas of Pennsylvania and elsewhere. But the Equality Act reaches much further; as written, it would put religious business-owners, charities and hospitals in impossible positions, and empower the federal government to play locker room police, when many decisions are best made locally.
Our nation was founded on religious liberty — that’s why it’s in the first amendment of our Bill of Rights. We must allow room to live for people of good conscience who will happily serve gay and transgender customers every day, but do not want to participate in events of specific significance, such as weddings and celebrations to mark gender transition. (A conservative baker in Colorado recently refused to sell a custom “transition cake,” which sparked controversy around this issue.)
The Equality Act allows for no such room…
Albert Eisenberg is a co-founder of Broad + Liberty. @albydelphia