by Travis Weber
May 22, 2019
In floor debate leading up to the Equality Act vote in the House last Friday morning, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) tried to explain why the bill was so great. In doing so, he got a lot wrong. Here are four examples.
1) Hoyer tries to piggyback on the civil rights movement, but the Equality Act is not a continuation of the civil rights movement.
In his remarks, Hoyer referenced the legacy of the civil rights movement and the steps it made to overcome slavery and racism, claiming today “will be as it was in 1964 when we passed that civil rights bill.” Though Christians shamefully participated in and perpetuated slavery, it was also Christians (William Wilberforce and many others) who corrected this theological error and led the charge on slavery’s abolition—because of their faith.
However, those supporting the Equality Act do not have biblical teaching and history on their side; nowhere in theology or history do we find the notion that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” define our humanity. Indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ defines us, and informs who we are.
Hoyer cannot pull this sleight-of-hand to piggyback the Equality Act onto civil rights history.
2) Hoyer tries to invoke the Bible to support the Equality Act, but his attempt fails.
Hoyer went on at length about how Christian love should lead to support for the Equality Act:
“The Bible says love your neighbor as yourself … not love your straight neighbor, not love your Christian neighbor, not love your white neighbor, not love your native-born neighbor, not love your neighbor of some other distinction, but love your neighbor as yourself. That means, in my view, love your gay neighbor. Love your lesbian neighbor. Love your trans neighbor. It means love your Jewish neighbor, love your African-American, Latino, Asian-American neighbor. Love your immigrant neighbor. Love your neighbor. Not your hyphenated neighbor.”
Of course, we are to love. Hoyer, however, does not understand biblical love. Biblical love does not mean we should let people do things that harm them; we are to tell them the truth. That’s what true love does—it speaks the hard truths—truths that we must speak for the good of the other person. When Hoyer implies we should let people walk down roads of self-conferred sexual identity that are harmful to them without saying anything to them, it actually shows that we do not love them.
3) Hoyer revealed a faulty understanding of U.S. history, natural law, and human rights.
Near the beginning of his remarks, Hoyer made an uncontroversial reference to the Declaration of Independence:
“Many members have quoted that extraordinary doctrine of civil rights and human rights articulated by our founders 243 years ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident… . all men and all women and all people are created equal by God and endowed not by the Constitution, not by this body, but endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
The statements from the Declaration are absolutely true, but they certainly don’t lead to the Equality Act. They are derived from a biologically-rooted understanding of sexuality as informed by Scripture and the history of Christian thought—an understanding at odds with the ideology of the sexual revolution which is enshrined in this bill.
Human rights are based on the idea that all human beings are created in the imago dei—the image of God. This assumes an understanding of the human person as derived from God’s revelation and natural law—an objective understanding which does not contemplate or include the modern notions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” which are anchored into the Equality Act. This natural law understanding is what the Founders were working from when the Declaration was penned—not Hoyer’s understanding.
4) Hoyer recognizes the distinction between men and women, and recognizes he wants to protect both men and women—yet he supports the Equality Act which would obliterate this distinction.
“Surely we ought to be able to agree … that all men and all women are created equal and are deserving of equal treatment.”
True enough. So why is Hoyer supporting a law which would force women to compete on unequal footing with men in sports? By locking the notion of “gender identity” into law, the Equality Act would force women to compete against biological men in competitions, and override women’s privacy concerns about being in intimate spaces like locker rooms with biological males. Indeed, Hoyer’s reference above to the Declaration recognizing that “all men and all women” being “created equal by God” shows that Hoyer implicitly recognizes the distinctions between the sexes, the very thing that the Equality Act would abolish.