House Republican Introduces LGBTQ Discrimination Bill With Huge Religious Concessions
Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart introduced the Fairness For All Act (FFAA), the first time that a conservative Republican member of Congress has ever introduced legislation that benefits the LGBTQ community.
The bill would introduce sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, banning LGBTQ discrimination in education, employment, housing, and public accommodations.
According to LGBTQNation, this bill differs from the more comprehensive Equality Act, which passed the Democratic-led House in May 2019, in that it would allow religious organizations and small-business wedding vendors to continue discriminating against LGBTQ people. This new bill would require any business, with the exception of wedding vendors with over 15 employees, to serve LGBTQ people; it would also allow religious schools and colleges to retain their tax-exempt status even if they discriminate against LGBTQ people by refusing services such as public venue activities, adoptions, and more.
Convervative groups like the Church of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the American Unity Fund, the Center for Public Justice, and the Council for Christian Colleges are all in support of the FFAA; however, some organizations aren’t so happy with this new proposed bill. The conservative Heritage Foundation called the proposal “misguided,” claiming it would “penalize” transphobic Christians, “violate the privacy and safety” of women and girls, and erode “the free speech and religious liberty rights” of any discriminatory person working outside of a religious organization. President Alphonso David of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) showed discontent for this bill, saying, “The so-called Fairness for All Act is an unacceptable, partisan vehicle that erodes existing civil rights protections based on race, sex and religion, while sanctioning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.”
Why this matters?
This bill is designed to provide religious organizations and service providers the ability to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, where they are explicitly prohibited under current federal law from discriminating based on other protected characteristics.
The FFAA bill also creates a new voucher system that aims to allow government-contracted religiously affiliated child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBTQ parents or single parents who do not meet the agency’s religious criteria.
If you are considering adoption, learn more in this article from the ACLU about how the Fairness For All Act might affect you.