The Equality Act seeks or is intended to protect transgender and other LGBTQ people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The act will be an expansion of the already existing federal anti-discrimination law of 1964 that protects people. Basing arguments on various opinions regarding the subject, the reform, like many others may fail to operate as expected. The law enforcement system has several pitfalls that might hinder it from protecting the intended community. However, it is still necessary to enact it as it will be a move to change many Americans’ views of LGBTQ society. Thus, the Equality Act will be passed but may not sufficiently protect the LBGTQ from discrimination.
Assessment from the Spade’s Perspective
Dean Spade views various reform practices as a cover-up of continuous injustices in the law enforcement system. From this perspective, the Equality Act will be passed into law but the transgender community will continue suffering from discrimination. Speaking in one of his lectures about coming together, Spade mentions that the law enforcement system is the main source of discrimination against transgender people in the United States (The Evergreen State College, 2016). The LGBTQ community members suffer most at the hands of the law enforcers, especially through police harassment, rape in jails and the military, and other government institutions that hesitate or refuse to serve the group.
Equality Act reform will be passed but will not change the mindsets of the law enforcers who often discriminate the transgender and queers. Spade lists several types of problematic mainstream reforms that do not fulfill the reform’s expectations. Some of the mainstreams include anti-discrimination and hate crime laws measures, anti-bullying measures, police body cameras, hiring marginalized groups as police, and offering relief for non-violent offenders (The Evergreen State College, 2016). These reforms offer minimal changes for the targeted groups because they either target the wrong participants or the enforcers’ mindset remain the same.
The Equality Act will likely experience the subsequent pitfalls of many other reforms in the nation. One major pitfall is that the presence of expanded law does not reduce harm in the targeted group (The Evergreen State College, 2016). Police body cameras were introduced to control and reduce police harassment, especially toward people of color. However, while wearing body cameras, these people experience equal harassment from the system. Transgender people experience more sexual harassment in jail than other people. Spade says that military bases are sources of all sexual orientation crimes including rape and murder for LGBTQ people. Therefore, unless the law enforcers change their point of view about people with different sexual orientations and gender identities, the anti-discrimination reform will not work.
Another pitfall is that relief only reaches the least marginalized LGBTQ members. The federal government offers relief only to non-violent offenders in the group (The Evergreen State College, 2016). The program favors members with no law-breaking record yet most members are targeted by the police. In general, the highest number of transgender people either harassed or murdered by the police are people of color. In one way or another, most marginalized LGBTQ people will have a police record. Consequently, the relief is only offered to the least marginalized while ignoring the people that need it most. The argument here is that LGBTQ reforms are wrongly reinforced.
I agree with Spade that the law enacts various reforms but leaves law enforcers’ mindsets and violent behavior the same. When the government passes these reforms, it does not follow up with the enforcers to ensure that they deliver. Consequently, the LGBTQ community continues to suffer at their hands despite the reforms. The Equality Act will also be passed but not much of the discrimination will change. I disagree with Biden because the reform will not provide transgender members with equality and freedom as expected unless the law enforcers change their mindset about the group.
Adelaide Villmoare might differ from Spade’s opinion that the Equality Act, like other reforms targeting the group, will not work effectively. According to Villmoare, focusing the law on the group’s daily practices can influence the effectiveness of the act (Villmoare, 1991). Villmoare calls for Feminists, human rights promoters, and all interested activists of the oppressed including the LGBTQ to view their rights from a different perspective. This perspective demands looking into people’s daily activities and noticing the struggles of the oppressed. By incorporating the daily struggles of transgender people in the Act, the law has a higher chance of transforming their lives.
The Equality Act passes the effectiveness qualification required by Villmoare. Instead of viewing the act of discrimination as a whole, the act dives into the daily activities of the LGBTQ group members and against which they should not be discriminated (Villmoare, 1991). For example, section 2 finding 17 of the proposed act mention that LGBTQ women are often denied access to bank credits, student loans, and mortgages among other related help (“Equality Act,” 2021). The act of discrimination is mentioned as an activity in which a member of the group is discriminated against (Human Rights Campaign, 2021). Consequently, enacting the law will mean that the discrimination victim has clear evidence against a discriminating institution based on this provision. Thus, based on this specific projection of the matter, the Equality Act has a high chance of protecting the community from discrimination.
Stonewall Uprising Subjects Response to the Act
The people profiled in the Stonewall Uprising film would be excited that their rights in specific situations will be protected. In 1969, the police raided Stonewall Inn, a gathering and entertainment place for LGBTQ community members (Heilbroner & Davis, 2010). The police arrested the club patrons and cleared the bar citing that the club was operating without a liquor license. The law enforcers also arrested some gay men who were not fully clothed. These events triggered a riot that started a gay rights protection movement.
The lesbians, Gays, and transgender people rioting or arrested in this event would be happy that the Equality Act seeks to eliminate the discrimination. The act intends to allow LGBTQ people to run their specialized clubs and bars without police harassment. The law demands that the community has the right to own and run public utilities like any other Americans so long as they are not breaking the law. Furthermore, transgender people are now allowed to wear clothes that indicate their preferred gender, change their identification names, and other preferred changes to show their correct gender (Human Rights Campaign, 2021). For that reason, the gays arrested in the Stonewall Uprising for not wearing enough clothes would be protected. The club owners would also applaud that their rights to continue their running the bar and protect their economic status are protected.
Power of Law for Equitable Society
The law has the power to make society more equitable but under certain conditions. According to Spade (2015), hate crime laws legitimize and strengthen the criminal punishment system which targets the particular people the law seeks to protect. The law enables law enforcers to focus more on the possibility of the LGBTQ group making mistakes and severely punishing them. It is for this reason that many LGBTQ members are killed through police brutality when caught breaking the law.
The law to equalize the community is passed by people with positive intentions for the marginalized. However, the enforcers, who are given the role to enact this law still hold on to the hate or prejudice against the members. Consequently, they feel that the law has given them a chance to severely punish the group members should they break it. The law can only have the power to equalize society only if law enactors are also involved in the fight for societal rights. In most cases, the bill is proposed and passed by political leaders who intend to win the votes of a targeted group. If the people proposing the bill could do so for the right and mare reason; to protect the community then it would work.
The Equality Act may not effectively protect the LGBTQ community because the law enactors do not share the same opinions with the group. Many hate crime laws have been passed in the past but have been ineffective. The law enforcement agency members’ negative attitudes towards the community are not changed by the law. Consequently, these people continue to suffer from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act has particular coverage of discrimination activities and is expected to be effective as many LGBTQ members are hoping for its success. Therefore, unless the law enforcers also accept the community, the implementation of the law will be challenged.
Equality Act, Publ. L. No. H. R. 5 Stat. 393. (2021).
Heilbroner, D.& Davis, K. (2010). Stonewall Uprising [Film]. PBS American Experience.
Human Rights Campaign. (2021). Do we really need the Equality Act? [Video]. YouTube.
Spade, D. (2015). What’s wrong with rights? In W. Brown (Ed) Normal life: Administrative violence, critical trans politics, and the limits of law, (pp. 38-51). Duke University Press.
The Evergreen State College Productions. (2016). Coming together speaker series: Dean Spade [Video]. YouTube.
Villmoare, A. H. (1991). Women, differences, and rights as practices: An interpretive essay and a proposal. Law and Society Review, 25(2), 385-410.