Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Bill For Gender-Neutral Language In Laws

In a move poised as an effort to create a more inclusive and gender-neutral United States, Democratic lawmakers have introduced the Equality in Our Laws Act. 

Spearheaded by Reps. Robert Garcia (D-CA), Summer Lee (D-PA) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), the measure aims to make the nation’s legal code more welcoming to women, nonbinary, hermaphroditic and gender-nonconforming Americans by replacing masculine generics with gender-neutral language.

According to a one-pager about the proposed legislation, it seeks to authorize the Office of Law Revision Counsel “to make non-substantive, gender-neutral revisions to the non-positive law portions of the Code.”

Under a belief that words matter in shaping the foundation of a nation’s rule of law, pronouns like “he” would be replaced with “the Secretary” when referring to the leader of a federal agency. Similarly, gender-specific nouns like “fireman” and “policeman” would be substituted with their gender-neutral equivalents.

Certain gender-specific language in laws that specifically pertain to women will however be preserved. For example, laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the statute establishing the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program will remain untouched. The legislation ensures that any portion of the Code where gender affects the substance, meaning, or interpretation of federal law will not be amended.

In a press release, Lee emphasized the importance of the Equality in Our Laws Act in dismantling what she refers to as “gender stereotypes” and “social discrimination.” 

“The Equality in Our Laws Act will enshrine gender equality into the U.S. Code and send a clear message that we won’t be silenced by the right wing politicians, judges, and media goons waging a full-on assault on women and queer folk,” she stated.

Garcia, who is among the few openly LGBTQ members in Congress, highlighted that America has always been a symbol of freedom and equality. However, she added that the legal code, which forms the very foundation of society, fails to reflect the nation’s diversity.

“…it speaks in masculine generics, silencing women and folks who are a significant part of our diverse community,” she said.

The push for gender-neutral language isn’t limited to the federal level. Several states, including Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, have already taken similar actions, incorporating gender-neutral language into their constitutions.