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Woke “rights,” the Equality Act, and Speaker Pelosi

On February 25th, by a vote of 224-206, the House decided to criminalize Genesis 1:27 by passing the “Equality Act,” a Newspeak misnomer reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., addresses a news conference with fellow congressional Democrats at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Feb. 25, 2021, ahead of expected House passage of the Equality Act. The measure passed in a 224-206 vote. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters)

On February 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives could have addressed any number of pressing issues.

The nation was in its 11th month of a pandemic that had already caused enormous economic and social dislocation. Schools remained closed as evidence mounted that online learning was disserving vulnerable poor children. Civil unrest continued in cities whose local governments refused to maintain public order and protect small businesses whose owners often live a hair’s breadth from bankruptcy. The stunning work of scientists in quickly producing effective anti-COVID-19 vaccines was being thwarted as incompetent local governments botched the early phases of the vaccine rollout. The budgetary process in the House was a shambles, as usual, and the national debt was increasing exponentially. A sane immigration policy remained to be devised.

So what did the House of Representatives do on February 25? By a vote of 224-206, the House decided to criminalize Genesis 1:27 by passing the “Equality Act,” a Newspeak misnomer reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984.

It remains unclear whether the Senate will take up the Equality Act. In early March, the word in Washington was that majority leader Chuck Schumer won’t bring the bill to the Senate floor unless he’s sure he has the votes to pass it. Americans who care about free speech, the rights of conscience, religious freedom, freedom of association, the integrity of women’s sports, private spaces for women and girls, the independence of charities, open professional career paths, and quality health care for people suffering from gender dysphoria – the belief that one is trapped in the wrong body – should bend every effort to ensure that Mr. Schumer never gets those votes.

The Equality Act amends the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claiming that the bill was needed “because there is discrimination against people in the LGBTQ community,” said that “it breaks my heart that it is necessary.” Well, Madame Speaker, discrimination and bullying break my heart, too. But it breaks my head to think that you don’t seem to understand what you’re doing here.

First, you are denying a truth of divine revelation (“…male and female He created them…”) to which every high school biology textbook attests in its teaching about the genotypes that determine our biological sex.

Second, you are jeopardizing religious freedom, because the Equality Act, in a totalitarian move, exempts its strictures from challenge under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – which the House (including you and RFRA’s original sponsor, the aforementioned Mr. Schumer) passed unanimously in 1993. That means that you are prepared to bring the full weight of civil rights law down on any religious institution – Catholic, Protestant, Jewish – that believes itself bound by Genesis 1:27. Which means that you are criminalizing biblical faith and the Catholic idea of the human person.

(Your colleague, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, defended the Equality Act by claiming that “every scoundrel in American history has tried to dress up his or her opposition to other people’s civil rights in religious garb.” Please remind Mr. Raskin that it was Baptist ministers, supported by Jewish rabbis and Catholic priests, who, at the apogee of the classic civil rights movement in 1965, led the march across Selma’s Edmund Pettis Bridge.)

Third, you, an avowed feminist, are putting at severe risk the tremendous advances in women’s athletics made under a piece of legislation one would have imagined you to hold sacrosanct: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. If troubled boys can claim that they’re girls and have that claim enforced by civil rights law, the great strides made in women’s sports under Title IX are over – and that’s before we get to the legally mandatory invasion of privacy as boys who “gender identify” as girls enter spaces once reserved for girls and women.

Fourth, you are putting the demands of the LGBTQ partisans who are major Democratic Party donors ahead of science, and indeed ahead of true compassion. There is no serious scientific evidence that “trans-gendering” promotes positive life outcomes over time. Conversely, there is ample evidence that “trans-gendering” increases the incidence of suicide among troubled young people. People afflicted with the terrible suffering of gender dysphoria deserve better. Yet the Equality Act threatens legal sanctions against physicians who refuse to supply hormone blockers to, or perform mastectomies on, young girls – or who even question them about the source and sense of their mental distress. So real help is pushed farther away from suffering people.

True compassion demands rejecting the Equality Act.

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About George Weigel 478 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021), and To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II (Basic Books, 2022).


  1. Should the Church formally excommunicate those who wear their Catholic faith as a badge while using their power and authority to promote and enforce agendas, policies, and laws that defy the Catholic faith, that faith declared in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium?

    • Ever since the 1960s, the Church has not had the courage to combine the rebuttal of Error with high drama.

      Excommunication Scene from Becket

      The failure to definitively, dramatically, skillfully, and memorably rebut the dissenters who objected to the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae lead to the apparently widespread view that the Church no longer believed what had been taught “always, everywhere, by everyone”, but was too prideful to admit that a mistake had been made. So, the teaching of the ages remained on the books, but many concluded it had as much relevance to the times in which they lived as the Index of Forbidden Books.

  2. Just when I think that these people can’t get ANY dumber – they prove me wrong.

    Again and again and again and again and again ………

    Ad infinitum.

  3. Never mind which, the premise is completely false. People who have chose to embrace homosexuality as fundamental to their existence suffer far less discrimination and opprobrium, and far more deference by a majority of people in the US than, say, conservative Catholics, who are much more likely to face negative consequences in their life for publicly espousing their beliefs. They have far more political power, more economic power per capita, and enormous societal acceptance. In face the whole point of the “act” is to criminalize people for their beliefs, people who don’t actually practice discrimination in daily commerce but who resist compulsion to celebrate the choices of others that they believe to be inappropriate or wrong.

  4. When “equality” is advanced as an absolute, stand-alone value disconnected from other values such as truth and freedom – necessary for societal maintenance, advancement and common meaning – society itself becomes dysfunctional and absurd. What sort of people would wish this on America or any country? – Only elites who have the economic resources to protect themselves from the real consequences of the laws and policies they seek to enforce.

  5. The law applies only to public accommodations and not religious or sacramental services. There is no reason to fear that anyone’s dogma is going to suddenly be “outlawed.” The odds of a deluge of male athletes pretending to be transgender females in order to compete with girls and women is next to nil. What’s more, any athletic advantages male birth assigned women or girls have are largely neutralized by hormone treatments. And on what peer reviewed medical study is the author basing his assertion that gender reassignment leads to a greater statistical likelihood of suicide than among transgender people who do not undergo such surgery? Comparisons with the general population do not apply since the vast majority of people are not transgender to begin with.

      • You better read this again. it is not just what you think. It will do away with the Religious Freedom Act which allows people to act in accordance with their conscience. Like a doctor will no longer be able to not participate in abortions, transgender surgery or assisted suicide because the all powerful Democratic Party has told you you have no right to have a conscience. Wake up.

  6. If the administrative clergy within the Catholic Church have now deemed moral relativisim to be the guiding factor and watchword for all things administrative within the Catholic Church then they had better get used to seeing large numbers of its followers say “bye bye” just as many members of the Democratic Party have done and will continue to do.

  7. Must have a brain fog today because I usually get what poster are meaning but not today. I am not sure if people think the Pope’s explanation re: marriage blessing is right or wrong. Obviously it won’t satisfy all people. And if he said the opposite the same applies. No idea how he could say different when marriage between men and women is what is in the Bible. And re: knocking the President, etc. Does he not have to keep his personal beliefs and opinions out of this?

  8. The Queen of the Night is a character in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. She is feared by her daughter and all whom she comes in contact with because she is mad. When she swoops down on her swing to spread her wicked words, Mozart assigns her an accompaniment that is stunningly and nervously dramatic intended to frigthen all in her presence. Ms Pelosi the politican seems to fit the description of the Queen of the Night.

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