The White House earlier this week dodged a question about how the Equality Act would affect religious freedom. Owen Jensen from the Catholic television network EWTN asked press secretary Jen Psaki about the proposed legislation.
“What does the president, who we know is Catholic, say to Catholic doctors, Catholic institutions who are fearful that if the Equality Act passes, it has the potential to trample on their conscience rights?” he asked.
Psaki refused to answer Jensen’s question directly, instead pointing out that “the President has been a long supporter of Roe v. Wade” and has a “consistent belief that [the ruling that made abortion a national right should be law.”
Jensen pressed Psaki for Biden’s thoughts about “conscience concerns,” to which she replied, “I’m just going to state what the president’s policies are.”
The Equality Act is a wide-reaching piece of legislation billed as a necessary measure to codify nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community into federal law. Biden promised to sign the legislation into law during the first 100 days of his administration, which will come to a close on April 30.
Conservatives and religious organizations have raised concerns about several provisions in the Equality Act in addition to those mentioned by Jensen at the White House press conferences. Specifically, critics of the Equality Act fear that the bill would expand the definition of a public accommodation to include nonprofit entities such as shelters and food banks, as well as religious schools. Should this happen, opponents contend, Christian colleges could be forced to place men who identify as women in women’s dormitories.
The Equality Act already has passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on a largely party-line vote. The bill has stalled in the Senate, where most legislation requires 60 votes to pass. Democrats have a narrow 50-50 majority in the upper chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice