In a move raising eyebrows across conservative circles, a trio of Democratic Representatives have proposed a measure to reword the U.S. legal code with gender-neutral language. Reps. Summer Lee (D-PA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Robert Garcia (D-CA) aim to cast aside some gender-specific expressions in the name of “gender equity” and LGBT inclusivity.
Rep. Lee stated, “In 2023, it is unacceptable that the U.S. code perpetuates outdated social structures and reinforces gender stereotypes and social discrimination.” She contends that the proposed “Equality in Our Laws Act” will infuse gender equality into the U.S. Code. But critics see this as an attempt to appease the fringe elements of society at the expense of traditional societal structures.
Leftist lawmakers propose using gender-neutral language in the US law for the sake of 'gender equity' and LGBT inclusivity https://t.co/M5gh1YoN5L
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) July 26, 2023
The proposed changes, outlined in press releases and a one-pager about the measure, would involve substituting gender-neutral terms for masculine generics. For instance, “he” might be replaced by “the Secretary” of the head of a federal agency. This, they argue, makes the U.S. Code more inclusive for members of the LGBT community, particularly those identifying as nonbinary or transgender.
The lawmakers maintain the changes would be “non-substantive,” focusing only on the “non-positive law portions” of the U.S. Code. The Office of Law Revision Counsel (OLRC) would draft a bill making these alterations. However, certain gender-specific language would remain where gender plays a crucial role in the law’s interpretation. The Violence Against Women Act and the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program are examples.
Critics, however, point out that this push for “equity” may lead to unnecessary confusion and ambiguity in legal contexts. It is one thing to embrace diversity and inclusivity, quite another to reword the entire U.S. legal code to appease a minority. While language evolves naturally over time, forcibly altering the law’s language to fit a politically correct agenda could lead to unintended consequences.
Moreover, questions arise on how this could impact precedent and future court decisions, potentially leading to legal confusion. Legal language is notoriously precise for a reason – altering it could lead to unforeseen complications in interpreting and enforcing laws.
It’s important to note that past research cited by the lawmakers suggests that using masculine generics can reinforce stereotypes. However, opposing voices argue that laws are intended to govern actions, not reshape societal attitudes. These critics say that such an extensive rewording of the legal code may not necessarily eradicate stereotypes but could inadvertently cause additional problems.
It’s also worth mentioning that some states have already adopted gender-neutral language in their constitutions, with Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin leading the way. However, as envisioned by these lawmakers, a nationwide push represents a significant departure and likely will spark robust debates across the ideological spectrum.