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Republican tries to rename Equality Act the ‘Forfeiting Women’s Rights Act’

Nick Duffy May 11, 2019
Republican Debbie Lesko celebrates her victory during an election night event for Arizona GOP candidates on November 6, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Republican Debbie Lesko celebrates her victory during an election night event for Arizona GOP candidates on November 6, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Ralph Freso/Getty)

An anti-LGBT Republican lawmaker is attempting to rename the Equality Act, which would provide discrimination protections to LGBT+ people.

As the bill heads through the House of Representatives, dozens of amendments have been proposed, many of which attempt to undermine the bill’s provisions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Anti-LGBT Republican Debbie Lesko tries to rename Equality Act

However, a proposed amendment by Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko is one of the most bizarre, attempting to rename the bill the “Forfeiting Women’s Rights Act.”

Lesko’s amendment underlines how Republican lawmakers opposed to LGBT+ rights have adopted the language used by anti-trans feminist campaigners who oppose civil rights protections based on gender identity.

The lawmaker submitted three other amendments, one of which would ban government officials from “removing a child from the custody of a parent solely on the basis of the parent’s otherwise lawful disputation of that child’s change in gender identity.”

Arizona GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko attacked the Equality Act
Arizona GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko

Another amendment tabled by Lesko states: “Nothing in this Act or any amendment made by this Act may be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the provision or funding thereof.”

For someone so interested in women’s rights, Lesko does not appear to be a supporter of women’s bodily autonomy, submitting a bill in 2012 seeking to restrict access to birth control pills.

Republicans propose blizzard of anti-LGBT amendments to Equality Act

A total of 34 amendments have been proposed for the bill, 28 of which are from Republicans, mostly seeking to undermine LGBT+ protections in the bill.

An amendment from Republican Rep. Roger Williams attempts to replace the phrase “gender identity’’ in the bill with “sex designated at birth.”

Other Republican amendments seek to carve out vast opt-outs from the bill based on religion, with one from Rep. Ann Wagner specifying: “Nothing in the Equality Act shall be construed to infringe on First Amendment rights, including religious freedom, rights of conscience, and the freedom of speech.”

A further amendment from Rep. Vicky Hartzler would also exempt employers from having “to use an employee’s preferred pronouns.”

None of the anti-LGBT amendments are likely to pass a full vote in the House, which is controlled by Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference where House and Senate Democrats introduced the Equality Act of 2019 which would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, on March 13, 2019 in Washington, DC.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference where House and Senate Democrats introduced the Equality Act of 2019 which would ban discrimination against LGBT+ people, on March 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

However, the bill is likely to have a rougher ride in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Anti-LGBT lobbyists have been scaremongering ahead of the bill’s discussion in the House, with the American Family Association branding the LGBT+ civil rights bill the “Paedophile Protection Act”.

On the group’s website, AFA radio host Bryan Fischer falsely claimed: “If the Equality Act were to become law, paedophiles would have special privileges and protections under the law that you and I would not have.”

Fischer falsely suggested that if LGBT+ people are protected under law “paedophiles could not be prevented” from joining youth groups for “small boys,” adding: “If you have a problem with that, you’re the one who is going to wind up in jail.”

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