Anti-LGBTQ coalition targets Equality Act in the name of America’s children

A new initiative backed by a coalition of right-wing organizations is courting lawmakers and parents in an effort to stop the passage of the Equality Act — a federal LGBTQ rights bill — and promote policies targeting transgender Americans at the federal and state levels.

Backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Policy Alliance, Heritage Foundation and other national and local groups, the Promise to America’s Children coalition says it is fighting “a culture – and sadly, a government – around us seek to sexualize our children for the sake of a political agenda.

As part of this effort, policymakers and parents are asked to sign pledges protecting children’s “minds,” “bodies” and “relationships with their parents.” Elected officials can even sign up on the coalition website to receive model legislation on the policies it promotes.

Anti-LGBTQ coalition targets Equality Act in the name of America's children

“Every child deserves an education that is suited for their specific needs and development as guided by their parents, and one that is free from graphic sexual curriculum or content, the promotion of abortion, and politicized ideas about sexual orientation and gender identity,” the policymaker pledge reads.

On its website, the Promise to America’s Children coalition says anyone who signs the pledge is not signaling support or opposition to legislation, “with the exception of the federal Equality Act, which clearly violates all principles of this Promise.”

The Equality Act is federal legislation that seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces, public funding and jury service. The House passed the recently reintroduced legislation Thursday, but it will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate, where a 60-vote threshold is required to bypass a filibuster.

Civil rights groups say this new conservative coalition is an attempt to roll back the rights of LGBTQ Americans, particularly the transgender community, and stall passage of comprehensive nondiscrimination laws on the federal and state levels.

“The same few sources have been responsible for peddling anti-LGBTQ legislation for many years, and this legislation is simply the latest iteration of their losing political fight against equality,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said of state bills associated with the organizations in the coalition.

“While extremist groups push copycat bills down to states, these state legislators should understand that their constituents — including a large majority of Republicans — believe transgender people should be allowed to live freely and openly,” Oakley added. “The only thing these bills do is harm kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence.”

Emilie Kao, an attorney at the Heritage Foundation, said the coalition’s efforts were accelerated by the reintroduction of the Equality Act.

“Regardless of whether one agrees with the idea that people can have gender identities at odds with their biological sex, bills that treat Americans as criminals if they don’t agree with a government-imposed ideology about the treatment of gender dysphoria is a gross violation of our most basic freedoms of speech and conscience,” Kao told NBC News. “The Equality Act will turn disagreements over marriage and sexuality into discrimination by misusing civil rights law as a sword to coerce conformity rather than as a shield to prevent unjust discrimination.”

SOURCE: nbcnews

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