Sen. Kennedy: Equality Act Would 'Gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Like a Fish'

By Susan Jones | March 2, 2021 | 7:34am EST
 Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) (Photo by JIM BOURG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) (Photo by JIM BOURG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( - The Equality Act, now awaiting Senate action, would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.

And the bill specifically states that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not apply. That 1993 law says "governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification." 

Passage of the Equality Act would set up a collision of religious belief with nondiscrimination law.

"I don't favor discrimination against anyone, certainly not because of an immutable characteristic, but you you've got to balance the interest," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told Fox News on Monday.

"And I don't care what anybody says. This bill guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act like a fish. It says specifically biggest right there in the bill that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not apply.

"And anybody that is suggesting otherwise is either not telling the truth or they didn't graduate from kindergarten."

Kennedy said he doesn't see the "higher justice" in overruling parents who have refused to allow their child to undergo chemical or surgical changes to their secondary sex characteristics. (Nothing can change a person's X or Y chromosomes.)

Nor does Kennedy see the "higher justice in requiring women's sports programs to make women compete against biological males with gender dysphoria" or in exposing junior high school girls in a locker room to "the genitals of a boy who identifies as a girl."

"Look, gender dysphoria is real," Kennedy said:

Medical authorities, the DSM-5 -- the NIH estimate that about one out of 30,000 boys who are born and one out of 100,000 girls who are born will have gender dysphoria. So, it's not common.

And certainly, we shouldn't -- we shouldn't discriminate against a person with gender dysphoria.

But this bill, for the reasons I just stated, in my opinion, does not equitably balance the interests of those with gender dysphoria, and those without gender dysphoria.

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