(thanks to FreePik for the photo )
While the House of Representatives Bill #5 (2021) comes with the intent of improving equality for members of the LGBTQ community, this specific bill does so at the expense of violating 1st Amendment rights, as well as putting a variety of individuals at risk.
This bill should not be signed into law in its current form, and any similar bill should first address the following real and potentially dangerous concerns.
(1) The safety of women sharing the same group or multiple-person bathroom facilities with men. Rape is not a pleasant word, and most decent members of society would agree it is a horrible thing that should be protected against. I was recently watching a movie that dramatized the physical and spiritual life recovery of a young lady who was tragically preyed upon by a sexual predator in a public bathroom. While our current division of bathroom assignments for men and women does not entirely keep these types of cases from happening, they do strongly discourage them and drastically reduce their probability of occurring.
Entirely mixing our current group bathrooms between men and women as they are, which could make it 100+ times more likely for such horrible events to occur, without addressing this vital concern for physical protection, would be irresponsible and unwise. While I am a strong proponent for equality, I do not believe we should make policy changes that will endanger the life and well-being of our citizens.
(2) Religious Freedom. By specifically calling out that all portions of this bill are exempt from the protections offered by prior enacted Religious Freedom laws, it is clear that the intent of the bill is to FORCE churches and religious institutions to accept and provide services for members of the LGBTQ community, even if doing so violates the morals and beliefs of that institution. It is one thing to ask government agencies, which provide services for all citizens, to equally provide those services to all citizens in good standing in their communities, but it is entirely different to force religious institutions, which are generally private entities with private memberships, to adhere to the same level of critique.
The ability for someone to be married at a specific church, or receive any other service or ordinance at said church, does not in any way harm a person’s ability to be married, or receive or participate in any other legally binding service supported by law or government. To choose to worship at any religious institution is a matter of personal choice, and any service of note in the community can be performed under the respective government office or agency prescribed to handle that service, regardless of any church that may be used. As legislatures and citizens, we should be seeking to protect the rights of citizens, including our 1st Amendment rights of worship. This bill in its current form goes beyond the protection of rights and infringes on basic 1st Amendment rights.
(3) Adoption and Charity work through Religious Institutions. Similar to the above, a religious adoption agency is not the only agency out there for adoption, and even if they receive funding from the government to aid communities in this great effort, they should be allowed to do the work they do, among the families they believe have the best chance to provide happy homes.
There are many studies, both for and against, various types of couples seeking adoption, and our laws should support a variety of methods to accomplish these wonderful ends, without having to choose one method over another. There are many other areas of law that do similarly, and this should be no different. So long as government funding can equally be made available to other institutions, which may not be religious in nature, should any present themselves as good candidates, there is no reason to restrict one over another. In fact, doing so could provide a competitive advantage, and could be quite detrimental.
While there are many good and well-worded passages, there are others embedded in this bill that would take away existing rights and physical protections. Please vote NO on H.R. #5, and seek to find a bill better balanced to provide additional Equality Act protections in the future, so that it can truly be equitable for all.