Remember These Names: Three House Republicans Join Dems in Voting to Gut Religious Freedom

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the Orwellian Equality Act.

Three Republicans joined every single Democrat to pass the bill, 224-206. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it requires 60 votes to bypass the filibuster. It is unlikely that nine Republicans will defect on a bill that would eviscerate religious freedom.


While eight Republicans voted for a similar version of the Equality Act in 2019, three backed the disastrous 2021 version. Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) voted for the bill.

Conservatives should remember these names.

In the name of equality, the act eviscerates the religious freedom protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, carving out an exemption only to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title,” the bill says.

In other words, the “Equality” Act explicitly carves out an exemption from the right of religious freedom — an exemption that only applies to claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill would also enforce the increasingly stifling transgender orthodoxy, forcing places of public accommodation to allow biological males in women’s restrooms and locker rooms in the name of fighting “discrimination.” It would require schools and sports leagues to open women’s sports to biological males who claim to be transgender, eroding the fairness of women’s sports. It would likely force doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath by performing transgender “treatments” that many doctors believe actually cause harm to the patient.


While Americans oppose the idea that people would get kicked out of businesses for identifying as LGBT, laws like this one have enabled governments to force Christians to violate their consciences by lending their creative capacities to celebrating same-sex weddings. This kind of law weaponizes Americans’ distaste for discrimination to enforce LGBT orthodoxy.

For more on just how disastrous this bill really is, read this article.

Tragically, many Americans actually believe that opposition to LGBT orthodoxy ipso facto constitutes a form of “hate.” Partially for this reason, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has been able to con not just its donors but significant forces in corporate America into blacklisting mainstream conservative Christians as “anti-LGBT hate groups.” Just this week, Amazon removed an excellent book warning against transgenderism, without providing an explanation.

Opposing the Equality Act isn’t just about preventing a horrific public policy but also about combatting the horrific cancel culture that would demonize dissent on these issues.

Katko, Reed, and Fitzpatrick should not have voted for it, and moderate Democrats should wear this bill around their necks like an albatross in the 2022 midterms.


Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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