For the first time ever, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a piece of legislation that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to dismantle discrimination of LGBTQ people. The Equality Act would grant women and the LGBTQ community rights already guaranteed for all Americans. With a passage of 236-173, the U.S. House sends the bill to the Senate for possible amendments, debate and vote of final passage.
Republicans will try to persuade people this bill will create danger for women and children. An article by Justin Kennedy, chair for Cherokee County Young Republicans and a columnist for Daily Press, uses science fiction instead of scientific fact when arguing against this bill. He wrote: "While promising equality for all, the legislation looks to take an axe to the scientific reality that a man is a man and a woman is a woman. It appears to be for forcing citizens to become subject to the unrealistic opinions of others by adding special rights for those who decide to identify themselves as a gender other than the one they were born."
In fact, scientific research and peer-reviewed articles show there is a difference between sex and gender identity. Sexual identity involves sexual reproductive organs or chromosomal makeup with which an individual is born, while gender identity stems from cerebral patterns within the brain, particularly the gray matter of the smallest part of the basal ganglia, known as the right putamen. This research is a global consensus shared by structural biologists, clinical psychologists, clinical psychotherapists and endocrinologists. Kennedy's assertion violates the universal ethics of journalism by placing opinion over truth, inciting fear over rational thinking, and by inserting biases instead of neutrality. His article mentions the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then argues there is no coherent definition of human rights when reaching his conclusion about the Equality Act.
In Oklahoma, LGBTQ individuals can be subjected to discrimination not protected by the state. They can be fired, denied equal access to housing, and be refused access to medical treatment because of sexual orientation or gender identity. The state also allows minors to be forced into conversion therapy, which has proved psychologically damaging to its victims, oftentimes beyond repair. The Equality Act dismantles discrimination for women and LGBTQ people regarding medical treatment, housing, employment, educational, financial opportunities and more. It does not violate the First Amendment right to religion and does not give individuals privileged rights. These rights were bestowed to every individual at the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
When citizens are restored basic human rights, the opposition often cries oppression. The U.S. has a past of inciting fear when challenged with change: Slavery, racial segregation, minority religious rights, women rights, voting rights, interracial marriage, same sex marriage, immigration and Native American sovereignty. Let us not make these same mistakes again.
This bill identifies issues in our government and corrects these by stating women, children, people of a diverse heritage and people of the LGBTQ community are not second-class citizens. This is why the Equality Act must be passed by the legislative branch and signed into law by its coequal, the executive branch. Bipartisanship and unity, regardless of party, is imperative - as is the truth.
Sebastian Cooper is the secretary for the Democratic Party of Cherokee County and vice president for the
Young Democrats of Cherokee County.
Editor's note: Mr. Kennedy's column is not "journalism" or "reporting" on its face, but rather his personal viewpoint, appearing on the Opinion page. Neither his opinion, nor any others, are necessarily those of the Daily Press, its staff, or CNHI.